April 4, 2011
I have already written several blogs about Life… You know, the scientific aspects of Life… Trying to understand it all a bit better… Asking really ‘silly’ questions about things like “When Does Life Really Become Life?” Or “What Is Life?” All the way through to “Just How Did Life Seed Here On Earth?” Thrown in with clangers like “Might We Be Able To Create Life In The Laboratory To Recreate Those Initial Conditions That Gave Rise To Life As We Know It Here On Earth?” And, would you believe, I even thought I could attempt to discuss “What This Experience Of Being Alive Really Is And How It Came About!” Wow… What delusions of grandure, eh? Lock me up and throw away the key…
Anyway… Would you believe, after all that, I’m back at this door again??? Trying to understand whether it’s as obvious as it seems… As obvious as it feels, even… That Life naturally happens, whether you want to believe it or not, independently and regardless of any divine creator or omnipotent god that we care to imagine. This time someone else has opened the doorway to another side – and another aspect – of this reality that we think we understand so well… They’ve prised it open just that little bit further than before… Just ever-so-slightly more… And with that, what we can now see shinning back through that widening crack, would you believe… Is that it seems self-replicating chemicals can evolve into lifelike ecosystems!?!? Similar to those found here on Earth!?!?
So… Along with the fractal geometry that lies hidden within the heart of our cellular make up… And what with all the other properties of the universal star stuff of atoms… Which are like Lego building blocks… Isn’t that almost enough to allow us to begin to see past the delusions of the yester-year? Can’t we just accept that life is a natural aspect of universal unfolding? That we all come from natural cosmic phenomena? And one day we will all go back there…
Well… I certainly can’t tell you what to think. So I’ll just have to let you decide for yourselves on that one…
But first, before you make up your mind, just have a “butchers-hook” at this…
Self-Replicating Chemicals Evolve Into Lifelike Ecosystem
Life makes more of itself.
And now so can a set of custom-designed chemicals. Chemists have shown that a group of synthetic enzymes replicated, competed and evolved much like a natural ecosystem, but without life or cells.
“So long as you provide the building blocks and the starter seed, it goes forever,” said Gerald Joyce, a chemist at the Scripps Research Institute and co-author of the paper published Thursday in Science. “It is immortalized molecular information.”
Joyce’s chemicals are technically hacked RNA enzymes, much like the ones we have in our bodies, but they don’t behave anything like those in living creatures. But, these synthetic RNA replicators do provide a model for evolution — and shed light on one step in the development of early living systems from on a lifeless globe.
Scientists believe that early life on Earth was much more primitive than what we see around us today. It probably didn’t use DNA like our cells do. This theory of the origin of life is called the RNA World hypothesis, and it posits that life began using RNA both to store information, like DNA does now, and as a catalyst allowing the molecules to reproduce. To try to understand what this life might have looked like, researchers are trying to build models for early life forms and in the process, they are discovering entirely new lifelike behavior that nonetheless isn’t life, at least as we know it.
As Joyce put it, “This is more of a Life 2.0 thing.”
The researchers began with pairs of enzymes they’ve been tweaking and designing for the past eight years. Each member of the pairs can only reproduce with the help of the other member.
“We have two enzymes, a plus and a minus,” Joyce explains. “The plus assembles the pieces to make the minus enzyme, and the minus enzyme assembles the pieces to draw the plus. It’s kind of like biology, where there is a DNA strand with plus and minus strands.”
From there, Joyce and his graduate student Tracey Lincoln, added the enzymes into a soup of building blocks, strings of nucleic bases that can be assembled into RNA, DNA or larger strings, and tweaked them to find pairs of enzymes that would reproduce. One day, some of the enzymes “went critical” and produced more RNA enzymes than the researchers had put in.
It was an important day, but Joyce and Lincoln wanted more. They wanted to create an entire population of enzymes that could replicate, compete and evolve, which is exactly what they did.
“To put it in info speak, we have a channel of 30 bit capacity for transferring information,” Joyce said. “We can configure those bits in different ways and make a variety of different replicators. And then have them compete with each other.”
But it wasn’t just a bunch of scientist-designed enzymes competing, like a miniature molecular BattleBots sequence. As soon as the replicators got into the broth, they began to change.
“Most of the time they breed true, but sometimes there is a bit flip — a mutation — and it’s a different replicator,” explained Joyce.
Most of these mutations went away quickly, but — sound familiar? — some of the changes ended up being advantageous to the chemicals in replicating better. After 77 doublings of the chemicals, astounding changes had occurred in the molecular broth.
“All the original replicators went extinct and it was the new recombinants that took over,” said Joyce. “There wasn’t one winner. There was a whole cloud of winners, but there were three mutants that arose that pretty much dominated the population.”
It turned out that while the scientist-designed enzymes were great at reproducing without competition, when you put them in the big soup mix, a new set of mutants emerged that were better at replicating within the system. It almost worked like an ecosystem, but with just straight chemistry.
“This is indeed interesting work,” said Jeffrey Bada, a chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who was not involved with the work. It shows that RNA molecules “could have carried out their replication in the total absence” of the more sophisticated biological machinery that life now possesses.
“This is a nice example of the robustness of the RNA world hypothesis,” he said. However, “it still leaves the problem of how RNA first came about. Some type of self-replicating molecule likely proceeded RNA and what this was is the big unknown at this point.”
I mean… Seriously… Throw in a bit of self-similarity, along with many, many, many lashings – so many that it might well ‘seem’ to boarder with infinity – of complexity, and can we surely not begin to see obvious parallels between how human life arose on Earth from the “primordial soup” and those three “clouds of winners” that arose from the broth of enzymes? Aren’t these really just similar phenomena unfolding across vastly different scales of both size and time? A vast ocean of atomic interactions that occur upon the closed ecosystem that we call Earth vs. another closed ecosystem of much smaller proportions i.e. the very humble sterile laboratory flask? Are these not self-similar patterns… Patterns that elude toward a subtle and intrinsic ideal of temporal universal unfolding?
Dare I say it… Could we even begin to call this phenomenon “GOD“!? Well… If you want to equate the Mandelbrot set, via modes of analogy, to the thumb print of God, primarily because we observe these fractal like patterns almost everywhere within nature… And, thus, we begin to use them to describe God as Spinoza did i.e. “God, or Nature” as an ‘unknowable’ and ‘unfathomable’ reality of the whole of existence/creation, then I just might possibly begin to agree with you.
To find out where I sourced this article from, please click here.
And to read more about Professor Gerald Joyce, please click here.
OR to read more about the amazing research being done at the Scripps Research Institute, please click here.
April 18, 2010
Just the other day I was having a discussion with someone in a recording studio – they know who they are – about why I was a vegetarian. And during this Q & A session, which felt more like a grilling about why I didn’t eat meat anymore, I seemed to detect a general lack of any consideration towards animals in general, and whether they really had any of their own feelings – just as we do – and whether they were conscious, as sentient beings tend to be. After much debate, my “adversary” – for want of a better word – proclaimed that animals just “didn’t have feelings like we, as human beings, did.” The blatant proclamation of this apparent ‘fact‘ somewhat took me aback and left me pondering about what the great Taoist, Chaung Tzu, once wrote concerning the happiness of fish…
On The Happiness Of Fish
Zhuangzi and Huizi were strolling along the dam of the Hao Waterfall when Zhuangzi said, “See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That’s what fish really enjoy!”
Huizi said, “You’re not a fish — how do you know what fish enjoy?”
Zhuangzi said, “You’re not me, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?”
Huizi said, “I’m not you, so I certainly don’t know what you know. On the other hand, you’re certainly not a fish — so that still proves you don’t know what fish enjoy!”
Zhuangzi said, “Let’s go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy — so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao.”
After I asked the individual in question what exactly made them say this with such certainty – a certainty that was almost as though it had been experienced first hand on some direct level – they replied that it was obvious from the way in which animals reacted in general to everyday situations. It was at that point that I relayed my own experience with just how the bizarre and egocentric view that human beings have on the world can allow them to make errors beyond recourse, and how this usually arises from their general lack of ability to accurately place themselves in another sentient beings “hooves,” let alone another human’s shoes. In fact, I went so far as to give them a link to a website called “Choose Veg!” so that they could see some of the types of treatment/slaughter/culling that deprive the animals of their lives and gave mankind their much treasured meat for their plates.
While it’s certainly not a pleasant site/sight… And there is no doubt that a scare mongering of sorts is going on here… I still know that the images are not too far from the truth of the matter. Having seen this “rant” about animal cruelty, I felt obliged to write a comment upon the website that had directed me to this shrine for our malicious, greedy murder for flesh…
Thankfully the types of farms that treat animals this way are rarely found in the UK now, if at all. Big up the British Farming Standards! But still, there “might” be a few around… Especially when it comes to battery chickens. So you never really know.
Thus… If you’re concerned – and can’t give up meat – you can always choose to buy your meat from private farms that look after their animals a lot better i.e. they keep smaller numbers of animals and so can leave them “free-range”, as well as provide them with better, more humane care because they look after them on a more intimate “one on one” basis… Many of the animals on private also have names, like you might give to your pet cats, dogs, horses, gerbils, etc… Still the images within “Choose Veg!” speak volumes about mankind’s detached and cruel treatment of animals for the meat industry! Having worked in an abattoir myself for just under two weeks – back in 1994, in between leaving school and going off to uni – I got a taste for what murder was like. And boy did it freak me… I simply couldn’t dig the thought of working in the meat trade after seeing the way animals were slaughtered (not killed, but slaughtered) for our food. So i quit 10 days after starting, which meant I wouldn’t get paid a penny for the hours I’d worked, as you had to be there for a month at least in order to get your first pay cheque. But after what I saw, that didn’t bothered me in the slightest…
While I didn’t become a vegetarian immediately, it planted certain seeds of awareness into my mind about where the meat on my plate came from… Not to mention, it made me rethink completely about what I was putting into my body i.e. meat laced with adrenaline and other stress steroids… But it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I became a fully fledged vegetarian. Then, meat went right off my agenda. After all, you are what you eat! And I certainly wasn’t cruel…
Having said all that, if you can work in an abattoir and still eat meat – and there are many who can – then fair play to you. But please do be aware, death is still death. In old hunter gatherer times, people used to have a very different relationship with their food i.e. they used to hunt them and, thus, respected their prey’s cunning and stealth during the hunt. One was almost intimately entwined with their food, either growing it directly or hunting it in the forests and on the planes of mother Earth. Our ancestors treated their kill with respect and decency… In some ways, it was a fair game to play back then i.e. either catch/kill your food or it got away and you starved. But as we’ve lost contact with our ancestor’s ways, so we’ve forgotten what and who our food really is… And so we no longer see their alive, awakened bodies writhe with the taught sinews of their lives as we equal their own desire to live and exist while hunting them… And so what these animals means to us presently, as well as where they came from, beleaguers our own narrow “windows view” of the world through man’s own egocentricity. Many of us who understand our deep connection to these fenced in “creatures,” who are passive and so easily subdued in their fenced in fields, see them as nothing more than animals to fill our gut. But there are many, many more who don’t even connect the languidly grazing cows in a summer British pasture with the meat that goes on their plates, let alone the processes that kill them…
To be honest, I certainly can’t see that the methods being employed to kill animals in abattoirs getting any better in the near future, that’s one thing for sure i.e. a shot of morphine to knock them out before hand? Erm, not a chance!!! So if you’re going to carry on eating meat, then why not do so conscientiously, and at least ensure that the animals you’re eating have had as happy and healthy a Life as they can here on Earth i.e. they’re free to roam fields, they get some loving from the farmers to whom they belong (even the ability for a sentient being to belong to someone reminds me of the slave-trade that we abolished), they’re well looked after (they have easy access to animal health care i.e. a vet), they’re fed well and naturally i.e. not force fed like Foie gras OR Veal… RATHER than living in cramped, over crowded barns, with under nourished diets and a strong dose of drugs to get them up to weight… Again, this all too readily reminds me of the appalling conditions from the “concentration camps” that the persecuted had to endure before being killed during the second world war. Nobody dug those, i can tell you!!!
But if you’re the type of person who cannot speculate about the death of the animals you munch on for nourishment without feeling sick to your stomach… Or cannot talk about such cruelty without feeling repulsed and disgusted about the way your meat might have been treated… OR if you couldn’t kill, let alone catch, prey… Well… In my humble opinion then you probably shouldn’t really be eating their flesh now, should you… Food for thought, eh?
Despite what I’ve just written about… I’m a realist. I know there will be people who still will eat meat. So for the UK meat eaters reading this blog who might want to know more about how they can ensure that the flesh that they buy comes from “properly” – see above – treated animals, then please see below for some handy sites to visit. After all, if you choose to buy your meat ONLY from farms that look after their animals i.e. “farm assured produce”, then you’re effectively using your pound/dollar/euro to vote for better animal welfare. Now there’s a comforting thought, eh?
British Farming Standards info:
2) Red Tractor
However, if you’re already off meat and wondering what else you can do to stop animals from being exploited by their human “masters,” – chortle – then why not consider quitting all dairy products? There are plenty of milk alternatives, such as oat milk, rice milk, almond milk, or the common soya milk.
Either way… I don’t condone animal exploitation. For me, animals are sentient beings. They all have their own type of awareness and intelligence. Who are we to say whether they have feelings or not? We have already seen within the pages of these here blogs how “blinkered” our own points of view can sometimes be… AND just how prone we all are to optical, audible and other perceptive illusions. I mean, if we’re this prone to making errors about perceiving our own environment, then how certain can someone be about whether animals have feelings or not!? Surely if you find disturbing the idea of a highly advanced alien culture – who have levels of awareness that seem to stretch majestically beyond our own perceptive abilities – coming down from outer-space and milking humans for some nutrient in their blood, keeping them trapped in cages, riddled with wires and pacified like we do many animals… Justifying their cause on the simple fact that We – as humans – are apparently not sentient enough OR capable of the types of intelligence that our alien counterparts are… Well, then I would like to recommend that you should seriously reconsider the relationship you have with the meat that you eat.
I remember a rhyming verse I heard recently when someone was telling me about the Haitians and their current plight in Haiti after the earthquake:
“Human beings are part of a whole,
Of one essence and one soul
If one is afflicted with pain,
The others will be uneasy and feel the same,
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
Then the title ‘human’ you cannot claim.”
When I initially heard this I saw the deep truth behind its simple facade. And just recently, having read an article on mirror neurones that human beings have in their brains i.e. the areas for compassion and understanding one another’s emotions and actions, I wondered… Surely it would be equally as fit to replace the italicised word “human” for “animal?” This is lest we aim to truly become the autistic Life forms of evolution’s algorithm here on mother Earth…
But perhaps you see evolution as the driving force for life. Survival of the fittest, using the weak for their own needs and gain… Natural selection kills of the weak and leaves only the strong. And perhaps you feel that if advanced aliens did come down from outer-space to “milk” our human bodies of their nutrients… Well, this is again survival of the fittest and, so, is perfectly acceptable. But if this is all there is to Life i.e. use and enslave, then why do we as human beings hold the ideal of freedom above all others?
If you’re still somewhat having difficulty seeing how similar we are to other sentient beings… And thus are at a loss as to what I mean… And perhaps you feel that you want to know more on the subject… Then there is a gentleman who has thought long and hard about all of this. In fact he has written several deeply penetrating and insightful books on the subject, all of which I would highly recommend anyone and everyone reads at some point in their lives. His name is Dr Jonathan Balcombe.
Animal pain and stress, once controversial, are now acknowledged by legislation in many countries, but there is no formal recognition of animals’ ability to feel pleasure. Jonathan Balcombe — his books and his writings — debunk the popular perception that life for most is a continuous, grim struggle for survival and the avoidance of pain. Instead he suggests that creatures from birds to baboons feel good thanks to play, sex, touch, food, anticipation, comfort, aesthetics, and more.
Combining rigorous evidence, elegant argument and amusing anecdotes, leading animal behavior researcher Jonathan Balcombe proposes that the possibility of positive feelings in creatures other than humans has important ethical ramifications for both science and society.
Danger-junkie orangutans in Borneo climb dead trees and destabilize them until they begin to fall. They scream with excitement as they cling to the falling tree. Just before the tree hits the ground the orangs leap to another tree or vine, narrowly escaping death. Researchers call this peculiar behavior snag-riding and liken it to bungee jumping for monkeys. While no one can ask orangutans if they enjoy the same adrenaline rush as a person playing an extreme sport, one animal behaviorist sees this monkey fun as a bit of harmless thrill-seeking.
A growing number of scientists agree that animals are conscious and capable of experiencing basic emotions, such as happiness, sadness, boredom or depression. A few scientists even see the possibility for higher animal emotions like love, jealousy and spite.
Scientific literature, dating back to Charles Darwin, is dotted with examples of animals loving life, but rarely does the scientific community allow such musings. In fact, only one scientist is looking at the eat-or-be-eaten animal kingdom as a place where fun and mischief define the in-the-moment lifestyle of most animals.
To quote Dr Balcombe directly…
“I do feel very strongly that our current relationship with animals represents what the Hopi Indians would call koyaanisqatsi: life out of balance.”
And it is here that I would like to present an enlightened interview with Dr Jonathan Balcombe, which touches pertinently on animal rights, animal welfare and aspects of human consciousness and some of the various perceptive stances that We – as human beings – have about the world around us. I believe that once we can begin to see through our own deeply egocentric view of the Earth, We will be able to move forwards into new realms of behaviour that allow us to become “Shepherds” of the Earth, rather than plunderers and usurpers of this treasure that we call Life.
To find out more about Dr Jonathan Balcombe’s important work regarding animal rights, please visit his website by clicking here.
AND to find out where I sourced this interview from, please click here.
FOR more information about animal rights, please click here.
EVEN to read more about the ethics behind animal rights, please visit the BBC’s home page regarding animal welfare by clicking here.
PLUS… If you’d like to read about how science is trying to “grade” the facial expressions of mice while they are subjected to pain, in order to see if there is a common/universal language for mammalian expression, then please click here.
January 23, 2010
As most of the blogs contained within these pages are relating to psychology, consciousness, chaos, behaviour and science, I figured that the following video, provided by Nature, would be of much interest to anyone who might be curious as to how consciousness might be optimized and updated efficiently using self-organizing (fractal) like behavioural patterns derived from chaotic algorithms.
Abstract for “Self-Organized Adaptation Of A Simple Neural Circuit Enables Complex Robot Behaviour”
Controlling sensori-motor systems in higher animals or complex robots is a challenging combinatorial problem, because many sensory signals need to be simultaneously coordinated into a broad behavioural spectrum. To rapidly interact with the environment, this control needs to be fast and adaptive. Present robotic solutions operate with limited autonomy and are mostly restricted to few behavioural patterns. Here we introduce chaos control as a new strategy to generate complex behaviour of an autonomous robot. In the presented system, 18 sensors drive 18 motors by means of a simple neural control circuit, thereby generating 11 basic behavioural patterns (for example, orienting, taxis, self-protection and various gaits) and their combinations. The control signal quickly and reversibly adapts to new situations and also enables learning and synaptic long-term storage of behaviourally useful motor responses. Thus, such neural control provides a powerful yet simple way to self-organize versatile behaviours in autonomous agents with many degrees of freedom.
by Silke Steingrube, Marc Timme, Florentin Wörgötter and Poramate Manoonpong
To find out where I sourced this video from, please click here.
Or to find out where I sourced the article from, please click here.
January 17, 2010
Sometime in early 2002, having just been to my first (and last) ever football match (with my then flatmate, Mr Ralph Pool) so as to watch Arsenal play at their “legendary” Highbury Stadium, a group of us dispersed into the nearby public house (The Highbury Barn) so that we might sit down and discuss the merits and faults about the way “WE” had just played.
No doubt Arsenal were victorious… So all was good! But, as the match had been against West Bromwich Albion, I could hardly find anything particularly radiant to enthuse about, as it couldn’t have been that tricky-a-match for the then “Dream Team” of football to clinch. It was more a case of Arsenal playing it defensive and warding off any attack from the Albion. Thus, after five minutes of over enthusiastic raving from everyone at the table (bar myself), I was somewhat numb to my core over this sort of narcissistic “bottle” chatter. Nonetheless, as I had made myself a promise to give this “football craze” a go for just one day (mainly because everyone I knew was into it), I felt obliged to stay on and do my best to get involved in the footie flow… After another five minutes I was very close to a state of Transmarginal Inhibition, mainly from the mind crushing boredom that I was experiencing over the slow-mo recapitulation on Arsenal’s “amazing” victory… And having still not had anything constructive spring to mind so as to “pitch” into the conversation with, I decided that the only way forward for these egocentric modes of footie babbling was to imbibe more of the good, inebriating organic solvent, “ethanol…” The final aim being that, at worst, my tongue might loose and I might disperse my then not-too-sunny disposition… Or at best I might push through the Transmarginal Inhibition and actually come to love football like I might a son or daughter of my own. !?!? After all, alcohol isn’t called “the social lubricant of the mind” for nothing now, is it…
Thus I marched up to the bar and ordered everyone another pint of whatever it was they were swilling. As you can imagine, the pub was heaving with good vibes from the victory just past, and the queue was long… While waiting I bumped into a somewhat sheepish looking gentleman with long hair and a maroon colored coat. And as his appearance was of the demeanor that he might be someone who enjoyed football for the essence of coming out together, without getting too overly caught up in the “beauty” of the play, I figured that it might perhaps be a good time to strike up a conversation and get into the groove of footie’s languid lubricious social flow. “Damn good game, eh?” I launched off with. And he turned to me, with his eyes lighting up and rambled on about some amazing tactic of play that Sol Campbell had used to deflect the ball back into midfield for the final goal… “ARSE!” I though, as the beautiful tapestry of eloquent prose which exploded from his mind simply trickled off my own like water from a duck’s back. Thus I stared at him with somewhat vacant eyes, pondering over what to say next from behind a forced smile… But all my mind could muster was, “YES! Marvelous wasn’t it!”
Well… Standing in the awkward silence that followed my seemingly “banal” retort, I noticed the queue wasn’t getting any shorter, especially what with all the foul play that was unfolding at the bar’s brim i.e. queue barging, pushing in, friends taking orders for other friends who couldn’t be bothered to queue, etc… So, pondering on how a ref might bring some order to this bevey rush, I turned back to the maroon coated fellow and asked him how long he had been following Arsenal. “Ever since I was 12, to the present,” he said near enough. As I probed more, I stumbled on what he was currently doing as a job… Low and behold I found out he was doing a Ph.D. in “Fractal Topography” at UCL!!! “WOW!” I remarked… But he glazed over and said, “It’s boring as hell.” After this, I noticed we both tried to bring the conversation back around to what we enjoyed i.e. he tried to engage me in footie banter, and I did my best to reciprocate, after which I’d try to bring the conversation back round to fractals, only to find he didn’t want to talk about “work.” Alas the exchange didn’t last long. But I vividly remember asking him, “Might fractals play any role in evolution or biological diversity?” And he laughed, saying that all fractals were was just pretty mathematical patterns that had no other use what-so-ever. So I suggested that I would trade my football friends for his Ph.D. studies any day. To which the silence re-ensued.
To this very day, I know football is just not my thing… And where as some people ramble on poetically about “this” player touching that kind of defensive play and knocking the ball over to “so-and-so,” who dived and ducked inbetween the defence and then shot a scoring goal like some god… Well, despite the liguistic prose… To me, it’s still just a game where a bunch of talented, hairless monkeys run around a pitch kicking and nudging a ball into nets. Equally so, where some people see my varied ramblings about chaotic discourse within music and non-linear dynamical systems as pointless drivel about computer generated art, I know it touches my soul in a way makes me feel connected to the universe… But this is it. It’s about connection with what you are drawn to. No doubt there are many more footie fans than fractal fans in the world today. But that’s life! And it’s fine… This Ph.D. footie experience was in many ways a humbling reminder about how two people’s views of similar things can vary so drastically that we can sometimes see the beauty within each other’s dislikes. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
However… On some level, I found this brush with the Ph.D. unsettling… Something in me didn’t want to believe it. Hell… Something in me told me he was a “chump” who was more interested in footie than anything real or viable. And still… I had to listen to him. Here was this Ph.D. – a lad who had obviously been studying the math of complex numbers and iterative patterns/structures for quite some now – and, bearing in mind my then somewhat limited understanding about these aberrant beasts of divine simplicity and complexity, who was I to question his well informed personal view on the matter at hand? None the less, I carried on looking into this phenomenon for many years to come, following a sort of gut instinct that seemed to press me ever onwards, regardless of what others would/might say, and eventually I started to develop better modes of understanding about these wondrous forms of divine order and chaotic patterns. To be fair, my interest in this subject has never waned one iota. And despite the opposition to the idea that fractals are somehow locked deep into the very essence of our being, thus defining what and who we really are, it seems that now science is rediscovering these aspects within nearly all dynamical systems of the world. What more can anyone say!?
But besides all this, there were still many holes in the theory. Well… Until last year, that is, when sometime in November I managed to read probably one of the best articles I could have cared to have read, which I had by chance found in a copy of Nature magazine that I had randomly swiped from my doctor’s surgery one “chesty” morning. It suggested that cells were using fractal mathematics to regulate their own internal cellular biology. And, at the very moment of completion, my gut instinct began to feel vindicated. At long last science was beginning to see how “chaotic” flows can create marvels of ordered wonder that could easily give rise to something as marvelous (and “seemingly” impossible) as Life. Here was that link between the beauty that I had seen in the M Set and experienced in Life. This is how chaos’ beautiful flow caused a wondrous event which give rise to all of the Life here on planet Earth. Here lies the key to seeing how we came into being. This is the same powerful internal mechanism that drives our computers to generate the marvelous serpentine flows seen within the M Set… And which, if transposed onto organic molecular soups full of various compounds, also gives rise to the somewhat random, and yet specific, generation of structured internal cellular order. Don’t ask me about the logic there… Perhaps we have to give up understanding for a moment, and simply feel this essence…
How can we mere mortals ever hope to know the unknowable i.e. the shear and almost eternal complexity of “God, or Nature,” as we “supposedly” think we know ourselves? How can we hope to know what chaos will do next? There’s no point in lying to ourselves… We don’t! We won’t! All we need to know is that dichotomies/paradoxes and chaos are wondrous things indeed… Just as wonderful as the notion of “God.” In fact… If you want to still call these wondrous flows of chaotic pattern formation around us “God,” then I can dig that. I might not agree that there is a “God” as such… But I can trip with the notion of a divinely beautiful and somewhat unknowable force i.e. that of chaos, which gives rise to what Spinoza called “God, or Nature.” And it lies in the heart of all beings, whether we love football, or not. Perhaps it truly is the “Thumb Print Of God?”
So I present the article in question, which was written by Claire Ainsworth and was published on September 4th 2009.
Mathematical Patterns Rule The Behaviour Of Molecules In The Nucleus
The maths behind the rugged beauty of a coastline may help to keep cell biology in order, say researchers in Germany. Fractals — rough shapes that look the same at all scales — could explain how the cell’s nucleus holds molecules that manage our DNA in the right location.
In new experiments, Sebastien Huet and Aurélien Bancaud of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, tracked the movement of molecules within cells in a lab dish, then compared the pattern of movement against mathematical models. Large molecules, they found, moved according to the same rules as small molecules — suggesting that their environment was truly fractal. The team reported their findings this week at the EMBO meeting in Amsterdam.
“It’s a really interesting approach,” says Angus Lamond, a cell biologist at the University of Dundee, UK. “It’s very promising that the fractal model appears to be able to describe the [molecular] behaviour in this way.”
To find out where I sourced this article from, please click here.
Or to learn more about our fractal universe, please click here.
And for an amazing expose into how the chaotic and fractal world of math can show us how Life arose naturally i.e. without a divine creator, then please check this BBC documentary out, entitled “The Secret Life Of Chaos.”
For the more scientific minds among you, I also present some articles concerning the fractal dimensions of cellular formations that I have found very illuminating:
December 12, 2009
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “May be,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “May be,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “May be,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “May be,” said the farmer.
October 30, 2009
Earlier I drew on influences from Spinoza’s “Ethics” in “An Overview ~ Condensing Some Of The Ideas Discussed Thus Far…” as it raised some pertinent ideas surrounding our need to understand the world around us in order to develop a better ethical understanding about Life in general. Here, I would like to progress deeper into Spinoza’s ideas and set them against my own views so as to suggest why I agree (and disagree) with certain points that he raises.
Implicit in the medieval-Cartesian legacy is a philosophical theme that goes all the way back to Plato: psychological dualism. From Plato through Descartes man was conceived as a composite entity comprising both mental and physical substances. For Plato, most of the medievals, and Descartes, these two elements were radically distinct in nature and separable, especially after the decay of the body. And thus we have the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. From this pyschological dualism a moral dualism was developed: the soul has, by virtue of its superior and immortal nature, the function of governing the body, in particular of ruling over the latter’s passions. That reason hsas the power and duty to exercise this role was virtually an unquestionable assumption in philosophy from Plato through Descartes. Spinoza rejects this whol tradition.
To see why let us begin with Descartes, whom Spinoza chooses as his philosophical antagonist. Descartes bequeathed to philosophy a very strong form of psychological dualism that asserts the following:
1. Man consists of two radically different substances, mind and body.
2. Although distinct in nature these two substances are united into one individual.
3. Again, despite their dissimilarities, mind and body interact.
4. Reason has unlimited capacity to control direct passion.
Spinoza believes that all of these claims are false.
Consider Thesis I, which is the cornerstone of Cartasian theory of human nature. Even prior to Spinoza several of Descartes’ more acute readers realized that his psychological dualism was difficult sledding. The Princes Elizabeth of Bohemia quickly perceived that if two things are as unlike as Descartes claimed the soul and body are, how can they be said to be united and to interact? After all, if oil and water don’t mix, why should we expect th mind and the body to get together and get along with each other? It just doesn’t seem plausible. Descartes’ replies to the Princess were perfunctory of feeble, and many of Descartes’ contemporaries and immediate successors attempted to develop alternative accounts of human nature that would avoid the difficulties of Descartes’ version of psychological dualism.
I many ways I find this idea very important. Firstly, when something is so intergrated into a system, how can it be different? For example, if we have a computer and the body consists of a Hard Drive, a CPU, RAM, data busses, and the rest is made up of the basics i.e. a CD ROM, power transformer, chassé, etc… Are these components still not part of the whole that make up the “computer”? If we prescribe a notion that the Hard Drive, CPU and RAM are like the human mind, and the CD ROM, power transformer, chassé, etc is like the eyes, stomach and skin/bones, perhaps we can investigate this idea better. Let’s ask an important question… Without the bodily parts, will the machine function like normal? I would say no. If the chassé goes, then wires and internal components are exposed to the environment, thus meaning that the electricity flowing through the system can more easily earth against other objects in the surround environment… Or as dust builds up on the circuit boards, a shorting might also occur… Not to mention they might get knocked and broken as objects are dropped on them and liquid is spilt accidently. This, in many ways, is comparable to the human body. If we remove the skin, the internal organs will be left exposed to the world at large and thus they will suffer from more infections, get bashed and knocks more often, and even not function as well as they will not be kept as warm. The dermis is an integral part to both systems. Without all their parts these systems do not operate in the same way or manner. Thus… We can make a statement. If all parts are equally important to each system’s natural functioning, then all dualism really does is provide the observer with two distinct systems, which both have varying modes and aspects to them, contributing a healthy function to the whole. We shouldn’t prescribe more importance to one aspect of the whole, just because it seems to house the illusion of self… As this imbalances the equation. Without that balance, our thinking becomes unbalanced, and thus our “Ethics” also become biased and disconnected from reality. Our minds are the result of the system of a human body. The human body houses everything i.e. mind, tongue, eyes, ears, skin, nerves, brain, stomach, kidneys, liver, heart, muscles, cartilage, sinew, bones, etc… Take any aspect of this system away, and it becomes unbalanced. It becomes less than what it was it was described as… Human being. Thus, we should not give more importance to one aspect of ourselves just because it seemingly houses our illusion of the soul… Rather we are, in our totality, souls… Both body and mind – in unification – working together with patterns/processes that interlink the two man-made concepts (which seem to be separate, but are only separated in fact by psychological ideas that stem from man-made observations and through the process of thought). Only ideas and understanding separates and fractures the world around us. But these delusions need to be balanced with a healthy knowing that these discriminations are nothing more than ways to understand a deeply interconnected universe of energy – much like that described in the Buddhist theory of “Interdependent Origination.”
One alternative was to eliminate entirely the mind from philosophical discourse. This was the route chosen by Hobbes and the materialists, who reduced man to a set of physical particles in motion. Another alternative was to define man solely as a mind, or perceiver with all its perceptions. this was the route taken by Berkeley and the later Leibniz. Spinoza took neither road. Man is a finite mode of an infinitely various substance, two of whose attributes are thought and extension. This means that man too is both thinking and extended; but unlike Descartes’ man, Spinoza’s human mode is not a composite substance, whose elements – mind and body – are mysteriously united. Rather, each and every human being can be considered as a physical organism capable of performing a variety of physical functions and activities; it can also be viewed as a mental agent engaging in all sorts of intellectual and psychical operations. The former set of functions falls under the attribute of extension, the latter under the attribute of thought, both attributes being exemplified in man since he is a mode of God, who is constituted by at least these two attributes. These two basic kinds of activities are not expressions of two radically different constituents in human nature that are either causally related, as in Descartes, or totally independent, as in Malebranche. Rather, there is one series of events or processes that can be described either as extended or as mental modes. Indeed, since substance, God, or nature is infinite, there is an infinite number of ways in which one could in principle explain human nature. But Spinoza speaks only of two: the way of extension and the way of thought. To elucidate this notion let us refer to Spinoza himself.
In Letter 9 Spinoza tries to explain to his correspondent, by means of a biblical illustration, how the indivisible one substance God can have many distinct attributes. Of the three Patriarchs the last was called by the names ‘Jacob’ and ‘Israel.’ Now the first name signifies to a Hebrew speaker the connotation of clinging to the heel (Genesis 25:24-26), whereas the second connotes victory over the angel (Gen. 32:23-32). But it is both the same person who both seized the heel of his brother and who fought with an angel. Spinoza uses this example to make the general point that substance can have many attributes without itself being many. The example can also serve to explain how one mode can exhibit two very different kinds of activities without being divisible into two radically different kinds of elements. For just as the names ‘Jacob’ an ‘Israel’ have different connotations but denote the same person, so too the attributes of thought and extension have different connotations although they are manifested in one and the same individual. But they are exemplified not as two radically distinct constituent elements within the same person, as Descartes believed. Nor is it the case that when we describe someone as thinking we really are referring to movements in his nervous system, as Hobbes claimed; or that when we describe someone as eating an apple we are referring to his sensations of eating the apple, as Berkley believed. Reducing mind to matter or matter to mind is just as wrong as marrying mind to matter without explaining how this union can be consummated. For Spinoza, there is just the human being, who can be conceived either as mode of extension, a body, or as a mode of thought, a mind. In describing man under each of these attributes we commit ourselves to a distinct method of explanation and analysis that if consistently and correctly employed will yield adequate knowledge of man. Each explanatory model is autonomous and legitimate; both are needed to account for the richness of human nature. So long as we do not mix attributes and we refrain from asserting causal connections between modes under different attributes, we are in no danger (Propositions 6 and 7, Part II). Spinoza’s monistic metaphysics permits, therefore, multiple possibilities for the description and explanation of human nature.
Once we appreciate how Spinoza solved the Cartesian mind-body riddle, we need not be puzzled any longer by queries concerning the mechanism of mind-body interaction and union. Yet, one serious problem does remain: if human reason is not a semi-independent, superior substance whose job it is to govern bodily passions, as Descartes believed, how are our emotions to be controlled? Indeed, can they be controlled? Actually, it is now not clear how this classic question can be formulated within Spinoza’s psychology, since he doesn’t assert a mind body dualism at all. If mind and body are just two different ways of looking at the same thing, what sense does it make to ask whether one can control the other? Yet, Spinoza is quite aware of the underlying motivation of the question. He knows that man as a mode is a creature of passion and he firmly believes that man’s route to happiness is only by way of moderating and directing these passions. Accordingly, although Spinoza has produced a new psychology, he concerns himself with traditional ethical problems. It is this new psychology, however, that will provide, he believes, a genuine solution of these problems.
Spinoza’s fundamental assumption is that a new method is needed in order to achieve the goal of the classical philosophers, human happiness. The older method – whether in its Greek, medieval, or Cartesian version – proceeded from a moralistic condemnation of human emotion to a list of prescriptions on how to avoid, temper, suppress, or repress passion. Few if any of these thinkers provided a detailed, objective analysis of human emotion. Descartes attempted it in his Treatise on the Passions; but to Spinoza, Descartes’ efforts were not successful. Spinoza believed that his predecessors failed because their either did not study emotion scientifically, or if they did they used the wrong science or did not complete the project. Having laid down and developed in detail the requisite metaphysical and psychological foundations in Parts I and II Spinoza now proceeds to apply these insights to the question of human emotion and how man is to deal with it. These preliminary truths furnish Spinoza with the tools for an objective, neutral analysis of human passion. Psychology is, then, a natural science, subject to the same methods, norms, and goals as the other sciences. And it is from and upon this naturalistic psychology that Spinoza establishes his moral philosophy.
In other writings within this website, you may find pertinent ideas as to the psychological foundations on which the social dynamics of man are built. Please see, “Letting “Them” Into Our Heads,” “Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger Of A Single Story,” “Beau Lotto – Optical Illusions Show How We See,” “Priming Of The Masses – The Century Of Self,” “Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke Of Insight,” “Further Scientific Ideas Pertaining To How The Human Mind Works…,” “Evidence For Humans Being “Meme Machines”?,” “‘Infectious’ People Spread Memes Across The Web,” and “Another Take On Reality – Meme, Myself and I” for some pertinent new discoveries pertaining to the nature of our minds. Armed with these ideas, we may begin to see our nature neutrally as an objective analysis that hints towards society’s processes and ultimate drives.
Beginning with this methodological assumption Spinoza claims that man is capable of having both actions and passions, which Spinoza calls affects, or, in our language, emotions. Stated in this way this thesis seems banal. But by the terms ‘action’ and ‘passion’ Spinoza intends something not so trivial. First we must take the word ‘passion’ literally as connoting a process or event whereby the individual undergoes an experience that causes him to suffer. The individual is affected by some stimulus that produces in him an affect. The crucial notion here is that of passivity. Second, the basic difference between actions and passions is not, as some of Spinoza’s predecessors (e.g. Descartes) insisted, one between a mental state and a physical condition, but a difference between two levels of one and the same emotion. If an affect is understood clearly and distinctly, or in Spinoza’s terminology, if we have an “adequate idea” of this emotion, then it is an action, i.e. we are the cause of it. Thus, knowledge results in activity. An emotion not adequately understood is a passion, because in this situation we do not act but suffer, or in common parlance we are on the “receiving end.” Here we are not properly agents, but reagents, i.e. we react, not act. Thus, on Spinoza’s view, what makes a person an agent is self-knowledge; lacking such knowledge, an individual is merely a passive recipient of external and internal stimuli to which he responds either blindly or inadequately. Self-knowledge, however, means realizing that we are elements within a complicated and diverse system of modes. Again, psychology is part of natural science; and ethics must be grounded in these sciences. Earlier philosophers, Spinoza claims, tried to “supernaturalize” man, and by doing so they made it impossible for us to understand ourselves and to achieve human happiness.
For Spinoza, knowledge is freedom. In Part I Spinoza argues that only God is strictly speaking free; for God acts consistently according to His nature, which is Spinoza’s definition of freedom (Definition 7, Propositions 17, 26, Part I). However, even though as finite mode, and hence capable of only limited action according to his own nature, man by virtue of knowledge can become “relatively free.” To the extent that he acquires adequate ideas of himself and his place in nature, man acts, which is to say he responds creatively to his environment and acts upon it. To be free is then to be active, to cause things to happen according to our understanding of the way things are and ought to be. True, we shall never be free as God is; after all, we are but finite modes. Yet, we are capable of knowledge, and to that extent we can be free (Definitions 1, 2, Propositions 1, 3, Part III).
Spinoza’s conception of freedom is one version of a theory currently referred to by such terms a ‘compatibilism,’ ‘reconciliationism,’ or ‘soft-determinism.’ This kind of theory attempts to hold on both to a deterministic account of human behavior and to the notion of a free action. Spinoza himself clearly states in the opening list of definitions that ‘free’ is not opposed to ‘necessary’ but to ‘compelled’ (Definition 7, Part I). It is only when we are compelled to do something that we are not free. In such a situation we merely react to the external force; we don’t act upon it, since our hands are, so to speak, tied. Another way of looking at Spinoza’s concept of freedom is to consider it as a form of self-determinism. A thing is free if and only if it acts according to its own nature. But to act is to be a cause of things and not to be a mere recipient and reagent to stimuli. And we act to the extent that we have adequate ideas, especially of ourselves and our place in nature. Spinoza’s freedom is then a kind of Socratic self-knowledge that makes its possessors capable of acting, i.e. to behave with knowledge and control. And just as Socrates viewed knowledge as a kind of power, so Spinoza sees freedom as power, the capacity to act with understanding on and in this world. Indeed, Spinoza conceives of man as an organism constantly striving to maximize his power to act, to be free. All emotions that contribute to this conatus, or endeavor, increase his freedom; those that decrease it subject man to external and internal forces (Propositions 6, 7, 11, Part III). The freeman is, therefore, the man of power, a person who determines himself.
I have adequately discussed the notion of freedom that we are bestowed with here on Earth in “An Overview ~ Condensing Some Of The Ideas Discussed Thus Far….”
We are now prepared for the final phase in Spinoza’s search for salvation. Armed with the proper understanding of human emotion and human freedom we can confidently confront the most serious obstacle to human happiness, the bondage of the emotions. Spinoza fully appreciates the force of emotions; unlike many of his predecessors, he is neither blind to nor does he underestimate their power. Indeed, for Spinoza most people live in “servitude to passion.” They are slaves to emotion precisely because they are ignorant. It is not that they do not know what is right, as Socrates and the Stoics believed; it is because they do not know what the world and man are like. Virtue, the fundamental concept in Greek and Roman moral philosophy, is for Spinoza power, the capacity to act, which, as we have seen, implies knowledge. The bondage of passion can be loosened through virtue understood as the power to act with understanding. Spinozistic self-knowledge leads to an understanding of one’s nature as an organism necessarily subject to emotions; but by the same token it teaches us how this subjection can be weakened.
This aim of weakening the bonds of “Perception Without Awareness” is of primary importance in this blog. As we have seen, nearly all of us are influenced by the babble and advertising of the mass media at large today. In some way or another, we are provided with the parameters within which to think through the media and television. But once we understand this, we will be able to observe these “forced” habits and patterns of being, and so we will be afforded the chance to free ourselves further.
In Part V Spinoza sketches for us a kind of moral psychotherapy by virtues of which we can liberate ourselves from the bondage of passion. This therapy comprises two levels of cognition: first, knowledge of how our emotion are related to external factors; second, knowledge of how we can attain a certain kind of insight that is, to use religious terminology, redemptive. With respect to the initial level Spinoza prescribes for us a psychology regimen whose general purpose is to detach us from emotion. [The compatibility of these prescriptions with Spinoza's determinism is not evident. After all, if I am suffering from a passion over whose origin in me I had no control, how am I free to eliminate it? Indeed , if I am convinced of Spinoza's advice, this is too determined! So what is the point of Spinoza's moral therapy? Spinoza attempts to answer these objections in Letters 56, 58, and 78.] This is achieved primarily by understanding the nature of the particular emotions, their etiology, and how and to what extent they dominate us. Having acquired this knowledge we are well on the way to becoming free of emotional bondage. For example, most people become fixated upon some one thing, person, or activity that holds them under its sway. The most obvious example of such a fixation is sexual passion. However, the power and pain of this emotional bond can be enervated and perhaps broken once we realize that this emotion is very likely to cause frustration and grief. With this knowledge we can redirect the energy we might be tempted to put into such a relationship. Moreover, we come to realize that the particular relationship is not the only one that can satisfy our emotional needs. Emotions are transferable. Indeed, we may attain the more important insight that these emotions can be transformed into other emotions that can be satisfied by objects, activities, or persons that are more stable or advantageous. Here Spinoza has anticipated the Freudian notions of obsession and sublimation. Like his twentieth century counterpart Spinoza did not advocate asceticism, but moderation. He as well as Freud realized that emotions had to be understood and effectively controlled or channeled into profitable directions; otherwise, we suffer.
At this point it’s important to bear in mind how Spinoza’s new notion of God comes into play and takes over from the old traditional virtues of religious doctrines.
The second level of knowledge requisite for our happiness has to do with our palce within the whole of nature, or, in religious terms, with our relationship to God. Indeed, Spinoza claims that adequate self-knowledge is the first step toward a manifestation of our love of God (Propositions 14, 15, Part V). Remember that to understand oneself is to see oneself as a particular mode within Nature, or God. Self-knowledge is then knowledge of God. But love for Spinoza is an affect, or emotion, that involves knowledge; for love is “joy accompanied by an idea of its cause” (Definitions of the Emotions, Definition 6, Part III). All knowledge, especially in so far as it is defined as adequate ideas, can be related to the whole system of nature, or God. Self knowledge is then knowledge of God. But love for Spinoza is an affect, or emotion, that involves knowledge; for love is “joy accompanied by an idea of its cause” (Definitions of the Emotions, Definition 6, Part III). All knowledge, especially in so far as it is defined as adequate ideas, can be related to the idea of the whole system of nature, or God. To know is then to love God, and the more we know the more we love God (Propositions 15, 24, Part V). It is this love of God that constitutes for Spinoza the summum bonum, that which makes for human happiness. Because of the essential role of this kind of knowledge in Spinoza’s philosophy a special term is used by Spinoza to characterize it: scientia intuitiva, or “intuitive knowledge.” From an epistimological vantage-point this kind of knowledge is superior to both sense-perception and inference. It is complete an systematic, unlike the fragmentary and partial character of sense-experience; it is synthetic categorical, unlike the discursive and hypothetical nature of inference. Intuitive cognition enables us to perceive the whole of reality in a comprehensive grasp, wherein everything is “clear and distinct.” From this insight we are then able to “descend” to the individual elements of nature and see their mutual relationships in a way that was only dimly, partially, or sequentially perceived heretofore. With intuitive knowledge everything becomes systematically intelligible (Proposition 40, Scholium 2, Part II; Propositions 25, Part V).
From the ethical perspective intuitive cognition results in an understanding of man and his place in the universe such that life becomes not only intelligible but livable. For the scientia intuitiva gives us the “highest possible peace of mind” (Proposition 27, Part V). Why is this so? Happiness or, if we prefer, salvation, is the attainment of such knowledge because intuitive knowledge shows us why things happen in the ways that they do happen, that they cannot be otherwise, that man is not some extraterrestrial visitor who temporally inhabits this planet and then returns to some foreign domain, and that as an integral element of this one and only world he must learn to live in it. This knowledge can be characterized, Spinoza claims, as an insight of and into eternity, whereby the whole universe and everything within it are perceived “under a form of eternity.”
This is where I feel that the much overlooked fractal aspect of the universe could allow us to understand much of the natural processes and general flow of all things… Bear in mind what I have written in “The ‘Idea’ Of Infinity…” and “Self Similarity ~ Fractals, Fractals Everywhere…” before reading this following part.
Now we have reached one of the more famous Spinozistic notions, but at the same time a difficult one. For what does Spinoza mean by ‘eternity’? He tells us explicitly that he does not mean thereby infinite duration, which is how Aristotle and some of his medieval disciples construed this idea (Proposition 29, Part V). For Spinoza, to say that God, or Nature, is eternal is not to imply merely that God exists for infinite time. Rather, there is a sense in which, according to Spinoza, God, or Nature, is timeless. This latter notion is also, admittedly, not without its problems. But Spinoza tells in his list of definitions in Part I that eternity implies the kind of existence that characterizes a being that is totally self-sufficient and necessary. Indeed, given his definition of freedom, it turns out that for Spinoza the being that is free is also eternal, and conversely; for both of these attributes are features of a being whose existence and activity follow necessarily and only from its own nature. The key term here is ‘necessity’: that which exists and acts necessarily in complete conformity to its own nature is both free and eternal. For Spinoza only God, or Nature, satisfies totally this condition. In this sense God is not subject to time; for a being that falls within time is one that is not self-sufficient and perfect. Such entities are truly changeable, whereas God is immutable.
The perception of the universe “under a form of eternity” is the true and most precise insight about God. For we recognize the inevitable and constant character of reality as it is, and with this knowledge we attain happiness. [At this juncture another problem in Spinoza emerges: human immortality. In Propositions 21-31, Part V, Spinoza elusively alludes to a kind of immortality of the mind, which the commentators have found quite difficult to make precise. For some recent discussion of topic see A. Donagan "Spinoza's Proof of Immortality," in Spinoza: A Collection of Critical Essays edited by Majorie Grene (N.Y. 1973), 241-258; C. L. Hardin, "Spinoza on Immortality and Time," in Spinoza: New Perspectives, edited by R. Shahan and J. Biro (Norman, Oklahoma 1978), 129-138.]
Here I’d like to suggest that fractals are what makes the mind eternal. The mind is nothing more than a system which has various neural centers that govern certain aspects of character, as I have already suggested in “Self Similarity ~ Fractals, Fractals Everywhere…,” all of which are regulated by aspects centered around chaotic systems i.e. strange attractors, that are infinite in nature… Thus these patterns of mind are eternal in the sense that they never repeat themselves in any exact manor, but rather they flow with self-similarity to ensure subtle change that give rise to an aspect of evolution (as discussed in “An Overview ~ Condensing Some Of The Ideas Discussed Thus Far…“).
I would also suggest that the idea of memes presents one with another aspect of how the mind is eternal. As you may have already noticed, we are very open to suggestion in our daily lives, “taking-on-board” many ideas that are not our own. This beg the question… “Is anything that we do actually original?” I would say not. Rather we mimic and reflect the social and geographical needs that we find ourselves in. We do so in order that we may fulfill our basic hardwired motive – to survive and pass on our genes to ensure survival of the species. If one was to born into a this world, then immediately removed from their parents, their society and thrust into an alien geography like a jungle, much in the same way Tarzan was, and allowed to grow into adulthood unaware of their origins, parents and culturally. Then, if his “ape-man” were brought back to their parents, do you think they would find this “new” world familiar at all? I doubt so. Rather they would perhaps feel alienated in their new and unfamiliar surroundings. This demonstrates that we merely reflect the aspect of our surroundings in accord to the times and stresses imposed upon us. And it is these aspects of mankind and society that are eternal i.e. it is they that pass down from generation to generation as memes, changing subtly and suitably to suite the needs of this ever evolving world. No aspect of this collective will ever die… It merely get passed on in other ways, mutating much like our DNA does. This aspect of self-similarity gives credence to part of the whole pattern repeating itself across many varying scales and at many different levels.
In one sense this is not a new idea. The ancient Stoics too emphasized the importance of accepting and living according to nature and her inevitable laws. And the medieval philosophers spoke of a stage of intellectual perception that results in a kind of mystic union with its object, in this case, God. In fact, probably the first philosopher Spinoza read, Maimonides, ends his famous Guide of The Perplexed with a description of this kind of vision, which he characterizes as love of God through knowledge, a love that unites the lover with the beloved. [Maimonides, Guide of The Perplexed, Part III, chapters 51-54.] Another Jewish philosopher, Leone Ebreo, or Judah Abravanel, whose book was owned by Spinoza, referred to this type of intellectual mysticism as “the intellectual love of God,” the precise term used by Spinoza in the concluding pages of the Ethics. Nevertheless, although the general idea and perhaps even the term may not be new, Spinoza’s “intellectual love of God” (amor intellectuallis Dei) is different from both the Stoic and Maimonidean notions. Spinoza is not a Stoic because he does not believe, as Stoics did, that man is capable of complete self-mastery, that our emotions and behavior are totally under the sway of our will and reason. We have already seen that because man is but a mode of and within nature, his power, and hence his freedom, is limited. The Stoic and Cartesian vision of man exercising complete control over his emotional life is for Spinoza just false; it rests upon a totally inadequate psychology, which is turn is based upon faulty metaphysics. Moreover, Spinoza rejects the Stoic notions of passivity, withdrawal, and asceticism. For Spinoza, let us recall, freedom, to the extent that we have it, consists in activity, power, and joy. Spinoza’s free spirit, to use Nietzsche’s term, is a person who says ‘Yes’ to life, not ‘No.’ Happiness consists not in suppressing or repressing one’s emotions but in transforming them into adequate ideas so one can be free and joyful. In Spinoza’s own life we can see the difference between the Stoics and himself in his pursuit and cultivation of friendship; for the Stoics, however, friendship was a neutral, or indifferent, activity.
Nor is Spinoza’s intellectual love of God identical with the medieval doctrine of union with God through knowledge. To Spinoza this notion of literal union with God through knowledge is obscure (Definitions of the Emotions, Definition 6, Part III). It rests upon the dualistic metaphysics wherein God and man are conceived as radically distinct, such that the desired union with God has to come about through some supernatural mediation, either through prophecy or incarnation. Spinoza’s monistic metaphysics makes prophecy and incarnation both unnecessary and incoherent. True, the intuitive cognition that is required for and results in human happiness is “difficult and rare”; but it is attainable by man with the capacities that he possesses. The fact that most people have not achieved human happiness is, for Spinoza, not to be attributed to some irremediable taint that they have inherited from Adam, but to ignorance and superstition. It was to the defeat and removal of the latter enemies of mankind that Spinoza dedicated his life and his Ethics.
I believe Spinoza has a point here. Everything in this blog is not so much stating a purpose for Life. Rather it is observing the patterns that form the operating basis for Life. This has no doubt provided me with a clear and distinct joy at being able to understand the probability within which we have fortunately arrived here. For it is a mighty mountain of odds that we have scaled thus far. Once I began to see this, my life changed in many ways, doing so for the better. In these pages on this website, I hope to be able impart some of the Knowledge that allowed me to grasp the wonder to which we were born to others, with the hope that it may provide a similar catalyst to my own; a catalyst that will set in motion a chain of events giving rise to a path leading away from the old ways into new plains of being… When we begin to see that God is more of a process than a being, we also begin to understand what a powerful metaphor for the infinite aspects of nature God is, and that mankind – as part of this creation – intuitively knew about this infinite and eternal aspect, as he expressed through his own various religious decrees. For science does not erase the notion of God, or Nature! An interesting idea in line with Spinoza’s view of God and knowing, or love of God, can be found here.
When I saw the Mandelbrot Set for the first time, I knew there was something familiar about its twisting and eternal flow… I had seen it before I had come into this world, just as all living beings see their maker before their creation. I was, only in-part, of this design – this was the hallmark mark left by the geometry that constructed me – this is the “thumb-print” of “God, or Nature…” An aspect of the holy trinity of creation, chaos and math that allows all the infinite aspects of the whole to be known by the parts, individually… And by the sum of the parts together. This is what we are currently doing… We are coming together to see a view of the whole, sharing and excahnging our views so that we may see new perspectives that might not have been visible to us as individuals before. Hopefully, when you see this too, we might forge a better world for ourselves, in harmony with one another and every living thing, understanding what we are, how we are all interconnected in the Tao’s flow, and therefore what we must do to ensure that we fulfill all our abilities and obligations as keeper of this hallowed Earth while we live here, ensuring the same for the future generations of all Life to come… This is an Ethic that Spinoza shared. One of harmony, whereby one did not need more than they should have to survive comfortably. This minimalist ideal pervaded Spinoza’s way of life and ensure his joy and faithfulness to understanding the essence of being. If only he could have seen what science has thus far revealed… I believe he would have brought to our attention of pertinent ideas for new ways of being.
If you are curious about Spinoza’s treatise on his Ethics, please click here to view a highly recommended book about this subject.
Quotes in this essay are taken from: Ethics – Treatise on The Emendation Of The Intellect and Selected Letters, introduced by Seymour Feldman.
October 20, 2009
No doubt some of you will have noticed some unusual round dots at the top of some of the blogs contained within this website… And perhaps you might have wondered as to what purpose they serve.
But before I elude anything further about the nature of these spots, I would like to look at the definition of some words which we will need to understand before we proceed.
i. empirical method or practice.
ii. Philosophy. the doctrine that all knowledge is derived from sense experience. Compare rationalism.
iii. undue reliance upon experience, as in medicine; quackery.
iv. an empirical conclusion.
i. the principle or habit of accepting reason as the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief, or conduct.
a. the doctrine that reason alone is a source of knowledge and is independent of experience.
b. (in the philosophies of Descartes, Spinoza, etc.) the doctrine that all knowledge is expressible in self-evident propositions or their consequences.
iii. Theology. the doctrine that human reason, unaided by divine revelation, is an adequate or the sole guide to all attainable religious truth.
iv. Architecture. (often initial capital letter)
a. a design movement principally of the mid-19th century that emphasized the development of modern ornament integrated with structure and the decorative use of materials and textures rather than as added adornment.
b. the doctrines and practices of this movement. Compare functionalism.
i. The doctrine that the function of an object should determine its design and materials.
ii. A doctrine stressing purpose, practicality, and utility.
iii. Philosophy The doctrine in the philosophy of mind according to which mental states are defined by their causes and effects.
In relation to specific doctrines:
i. (usually initial capital letter) Chiefly Architecture, Furniture.
a. a design movement evolved from several previous movements or schools in Europe in the early 20th century, advocating the design of buildings, furnishings, etc., as direct fulfillments of material requirements, as for shelter, repose, or the serving of food, with the construction, materials, and purpose clearly expressed or at least not denied, and with aesthetic effect derived chiefly from proportions and finish, purely decorative effects being excluded or greatly subordinated.
b. the doctrines and practices associated with this movement. Compare functionalism.
ii. Psychology. the doctrine that emphasizes the adaptiveness of the mental or behavioral processes.
iii. Sociology. Also called structural functionalism. a theoretical orientation that views society as a system of interdependent parts whose functions contribute to the stability and survival of the system.
From these important foundations I am now able to present an arrangement of ideas that may lead one on to a clearer understanding about the human condition… A condition that We, as human beings, are all afflicted with in our current state of being here on Earth.
In my humble opinion, much in philosophy has become overtly sophomoric. No doubt it was the Greek’s original intention for philosophy to teach one how to be content and happy in the life that we have. And, in many ways, this philosophical premise became a crusade to rid man of any unenlightened thought… Thought that had sprung from a time when mankind sought to explain the unknowable and unexplainable with “reason” steeped in magical and mystical overtones of faerie tail legend… Is it any wonder why the Greeks saw this as a big problem? For how could man become enlightened and understand his place in the world better if he was still distracted by a mixture of contradicting legends and folklore that spoke nothing of truth, reason or reality and bore very little resemblance the world that existed around him? These yarns could only serve one purpose: to distract mankind from life’s monotonous drudgery by providing him with a false/ignorant hope to go on to the end. Troubling indeed…
The Greeks made a valiant start at this purge of fanciful delights. And as they expounded their thoughts and ideas, a youthful realism began to cleave it way through the old mystical nonsense of past times, replenishing the stagnant curiosity of old, with a new invigoration gem of clear cut understanding. This new understanding allowed man to take action within the natural bounds of Universal order. Much head-way was made with Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, all of whom hoped to benefit mankind with their observations of penetrating fact. Even right through to the advent of St Anslem’s ontological argument for the existence of God, the world of thought and reason grew in a holy quest for the betterment of all mankind in God’s world… For this betterment was based on an aspiration of becoming closer to our “maker,” so that we may live more pertinently to our station and find ways to rise above the base nature of animal instinct. And along the way it was duly noted that this type of betterment could only properly arise from understanding truth. So the great thinkers began to look for the truth in the simplest of nature’s systems – systems that God had made. This type of empiricism gave rise to a sort of reverse-thought-engineering i.e. observe the patterns and then describe them and realize their causes, mechanisms and purpose. Thus arose the likes of Locke, Descartes, Hume, Kant and Newton, all of whom sought truth from the hedonistic and troubled times of the Renaissance. These humble philosophers brought the human condition to a culminating point of understanding itself and our position in God’s creation. Politics, Science and Religious ideals were all discussed at length during this Enlightened period and from them refinement and the truth was distilled – thought it must be said that Religious decree during these times still held the better of people’s tongues in modest check. But as time progressed onwards, so philosophy became less guarded against the ever decreasing Religious whiplash, and eventually ventured into realms of the empty meaning of man’s true nature i.e. existentialism, phenomenology and analytic philosophy. However, during these broad-minded times, it seems almost as if the originators of their respective schools of thought have taken it upon themselves to argue every nuance of their ideologies so as to safe-guard their intellectual constructs against deceitful attack from opposing schools who would seek to undermine other’s ideals for the petty sake of embroidering their own truths in the general populous. And in unwittingly maintaining this prejudiced and superior view of their own ideals, many still forget to look to the natural world surrounding them for their inspiration, thus becoming fixated on obstinate practices of egocentric bias rather than the search for an health balanced truth and the cultivation of a real understanding about the Universe in which we live.
For me, this is where empiricism provides a sort of fail safe against egocentricity. The notion that knowledge arises from experience is of course a profound basis for developing a real understanding about the universe in which we live. If we see something occur i.e. an apple fall to the ground from a tree, and observe it occurring time and again in varying situations with varying objects, all of which fall toward the Earth… AND none which fall into the sky!? We would be forgiven for thinking that there is some kind of hold that the Earth has over objects. This profound realization of attraction i.e. that massive bodies exert gravitational pull on other bodies, while being credited to Sir Issac Newton, was no doubt observed way before an apple fell on his head. However, as Sir Newton was predisposed to making observations, he noted duly the act of an apple falling, somewhat understood the fact that the Earth was a spherical mass much like the other planets, and applied the notion of attraction to other celestial bodies and understood that a force was keeping the planets in orbit around the Sun. And after much consideration, named this force “gravity.” Most people today marvel at the aptitude of this modest man’s observation… However, in February of 1676 Newton writes to Robert Hooke to attest that, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” This humble renouncing of the fame with which Newton was adorned for deducing the force of “gravity” is no doubt the sign of a reserved and well guarded scientist. For absolute certainty, while being a wondrous proclamation of self-assured understanding, is also total and absolute folly. Newton was wise enough (bearing in mind the world in which he lived) to know that “perfect-knowledge” i.e. knowledge that has total security from error, could only ever be ascribed to God himself.
Whether Newton knew about this inherent uncertainty in the way in which human beings perceive the world around them, we are not quite sure. But I feel he had an inkling towards it. How he deduced this i.e. as a fact based on empirical evidence OR if only inferred from philosophical ideals based on religious decree… Is open to debate. However, I would guess from all that I have read on the matter, psychology at that time had not been reduced to an effective and exacting form science as it is deemed to be today i.e. the idea of optical illusions – as well as the problems of perception (as discussed with regards to the table in Bertrand Russell’s book entitled “The Problems Of Philosophy“) – had still not been properly, nor fully documented. What Newton might have only guessed at (having done so after reading Descartes’ “Meditations on First Philosophy“) was that observation was only as good as the machinery that was used to observe and deduce the facts that emanate the patterns in the “real” world around them. And if the machine is prone to deducing fact from fiction, as we have all too readily seen in Probably The Best Optical Illusion I’ve Seen In A While… And The Idea Of Priming! and Beau Lotto – Optical Illusions Show How We See… Well… Many of the deductions made by ourselves might be nothing more than fictitious notions based on the misrepresentation inherent in the architecture of our bodies resulting in illusion. So… Until we properly understand that we are prone to make decisions based on illusions, not facts, and that our idea of control and choice is to certain degree predetermined (see “The Secret You”), then we might never hope to free ourselves of the quandary that we, as human beings, continually make for ourselves.
Here I will use an analogy… At this moment in time, We (as a race) are very much like the three year old child that Rebecca Saxe talks about here. We aspire to be like the 5 year child, in that We aim to perceive the world more clearly by understanding the values of the other people around us, and we strive to determine how “accidents” and “misconceptions” occur i.e. others are either oblivious to, unaware of OR misinterpret real world events… And as we are only just three olds, we still haven’t properly grasped what the 5 year old child seems to so easily understand i.e. that Ivan the pirate didn’t actually mean to take/steal Joshua’s sandwich knowingly. Let’s bring it into context… In humanity’s case, it’s more that a divine power did not actually mean to kill all of those people with war, famine, disease, natural disasters, etc… It just happened naturally… Just as all things naturally tend to happen in this small corner of the Universal playground into which we were born. My guess is that we really had to make up the notion of a higher power than ourselves, so that we might be given the chance to somehow free ourselves of the helplessness that we all faced/felt/feared in the greater scheme of things. To not be able to control the death of those whom we love is a terrible thing indeed, as Charles Darwin all to readily understood by 1859…
Existence is not an easy thing… Lord Tennyson once described nature as “red in tooth and claw” and, with this, I feel he beautifully sums up the harshly competitive fight that all Earthly life must engage in on a daily basis. It hurts when we loose loved ones… And it seems to confuse us when we can not rationalize the misfortune that we all sometimes come across throughout the journey of our lives. No doubt we as a species have mastered much in the way of taming the needs of survival i.e. we have invented tools with which to hunt with, mastered the art of agriculture, understood the importance of fire… And above all, we can engage with one another in complex communication, via the mode of language, so that we can express abstract feelings and ideas to one another. Having done these things easily (as easily as passing down the information needed to perform these complex functions from parent to child OR teacher to student), we looked around us and noticed that animals did not act like us. No doubt, in our self-centered state of mind, based around our immediate survival, we thus concluded that We were above animals… And once we reached the top of the food chain, we became further deluded about our station. When storms destroyed our crops, we felt helpless. When disease killed our fellows, we felt defenseless. When the earth moved violently and our caves and/or buildings collapsed, we felt destitute and in need of shelter. How could we have understood the erratic flow that all weather systems here on Earth follow; weather systems that are based on the in-exact science of chaos? How could we have seen the invisible world of the bacterium and virus and known how to fight the unseen foe? And how could we have understood that the Earth is a round ball of rock still cooling from the force that created it in this inky black void of time and space, and so it will be disposed to have plate-tectonic shifts that cause sudden and violet quakes of Earth? After all… We can usually see when danger is approaching in the form of a predator and thus prepare ourselves to fend off an attack. We can see the moves of the attacker, understand their motives and weakness, and try to out manoeuver them… But when something goes beyond reason, confusion results. So why can we know somethings, and not others? Perhaps there is a force, obviously similar to ourselves i.e. clever, cunning, needy and yet absolvable in some simple way. If they are like us, then they must have appetites like ours… Appetites that can be quenched to invoke their good nature. Thus we came to the “realization” that perhaps there are these deities who could control the environment around us… And, as they were like us, in order to keep in their favour – much like the conquered keep in favour with their rulers – we offered them sacrifices to keep them appeased so that they didn’t kill us off randomly.
We fell into these deeply symbolic ways of being that allowed us to cope with the pain of life… These modes of thought allowed us to search deeply within our limited understanding of nature, and find reasons to justify the pain we felt when we lost those that we loved, or the comfort of our settled daily routines in our accustomed habitats was interrupted. For as animals, we fall into habits that are easy and sustaining… Why be a hunter gatherer who must travel endlessly, evading predators and hunting game while bringing up a family? Why not stay in one place, tilling the soil and provide for one’s family much more easily and successfully? We choose ease over difficulty. Most people do that naturally if given the choice. If we didn’t, then we wouldn’t currently be seeing this Westernization of life style sweeping over the world i.e. mobile phones, supermarkets, packaged meet, central heating, education, etc…
Rarely do we question the deeper implications and consequences of our actions. Pollution, deforestation, wars, hunting, fly-tipping (evidence of which I see so much of now-a-days while working in the fields), our continual use of plastic bags at supermarkets, etc… all are signs of our own need for “immediacy.” We have to have things our way and we have to have them now. But can we sit with eternity and feel how small we are, just as William Blake once did? Can we grasp the “greater pattern” that we’re all a part of, and so guide our actions and thoughts towards a more relevant expenditure of energy and effort? Can we understand the logical progression of the social constructs within our minds that have allowed us a safe passage thus far in the history of planet Earth?
There are many questions to consider here… No doubt many of us will consider them irrelevant to their current lives. And, sadly so, they may never fully grasp the concept of what Life actually is or what it truly means to be alive. But this is okay. That they will be nothing more than the ideal consumerist meme machines operating within the parameters of conformity begged by the capitalist machine does not matter really. It’s just one way of being. No doubt there are already many casualties to the “ideal consumerist meme machine” way of being… Iceland’s economy has already collapsed and the general populace are already looking for more independent ways of sustaining themselves away from the international markets. But then there are casualties everywhere in Life. It is a natural process to loose others along the way. Thus, with some hope of awaking the sleeper lying dormant within us all, I will say this… If we carry on consuming at the rate that we are currently… AND carry on bringing children into this world… Then we really are acting out of stupidity rather than rational thought. Why? Because we are not understanding the system of the Earth that supports us all. We’re squandering and stretching it beyond its means and abilities. We have become too self reliant upon our economies and markets to provide for us. And unlike in the past, when things go wrong this time, we will not be able to use the notion of a deity to rid us our misunderstanding and stupidity. We will have to come to some painful realizations i.e. that we alone have damaged the ecology of the world around us. Many have forgotten the way of balance that the Tao speaks of. And many more forget that this world is one big nonlinear dynamical system that is prone to being highly sensitive to mankind’s own input. And element of chaos is inherent in almost all of the dynamical systems of the world. When we loose this knowing in our daily lives, we forget who we really are and where we came from. And so we forget how to properly act in relation to the truth of our situation. THAT’S FACT! So how can we re-grasp what we truly are, without repeating old memetically infectious patterns of mass consumption or deitific abandon? Do we implement a mass killing off of all of those infected with the “bad” memes, as Pol Pot’s and the Nazis’ own regimes once did, and hop to re-program the youth with better memetic drives? Hmmm. I think not…
Perhaps we should look elsewhere for inspiration, and try to counter the herd mentality with new reason based on sound logical thought? In order to do this… One place I seem to come back to time and again is the shore of hertical discourse. For there rests one philosopher in particular… A philosopher who’s much disliked views brought about his excommunication from his Religious brethren. What they failed to see were that his views seemed to balance beautifully with the moral beliefs and notions presented in the multifaceted philosophical and religious premise of Taoism… A doctrine of understand the eternal and divine nature of all things. No doubt this is rather mighty insinuation to be placed on one man. I think he deserves it none the less. For he is none other than the much overlooked and considerably underrated Barusch Spinoza.
Baruch or Benedict de Spinoza (November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza’s work was not fully realized until years after his death. Today, he is considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism. By virtue of his magnum opus, the posthumous Ethics, in which he opposed Descartes’ mind–body dualism, Spinoza is considered to be one of Western philosophy’s most important philosophers. Philosopher and historian Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said of all modern philosophers, “You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all.”
Though Spinoza was active in the Dutch Jewish community and extremely well-versed in Jewish texts, his controversial ideas eventually led community leaders to issue a cherem (a kind of excommunication) against him, effectively dismissing him from Jewish society at age 23. Likewise, all of Spinoza’s works were listed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books) by the Roman Catholic Church.
Spinoza lived quietly as a lens grinder, turning down rewards and honors throughout his life, including prestigious teaching positions, and gave his family inheritance to his sister. Spinoza’s moral character and philosophical accomplishments prompted 20th century philosopher Gilles Deleuze to name him “the ‘prince’ of philosophers.” Spinoza died at the age of 44 of a lung illness, perhaps tuberculosis or silicosis exacerbated by fine glass dust inhaled while tending to his trade. Spinoza is buried in the churchyard of the Nieuwe Kerk on Spui in The Hague.
Spinoza was a bit of an anomaly as far as Philosophers go. He had the gall and vision to realize that if one were to “pigeon-hole” themselves into small boxes of “definite” reason i.e. via religious decree and social conformity, then one in essence traps all their future arguments into a logically narrowing corridor that allows no room for true expression of the eternal or divine aspect of everyday reality. Rather one will only be able to walk up and down these annals of its predefined conclusions. And this limiting scope can only provide the inventor to dig downward into a deeper pit of their own making… Eventually some might even hit a rock bottom of some kind. But, if not… Then their view of the eternal night sky above, and all its wonders, will only become more narrowed as their hole affords them an ever decreasing window to the heavens of possibility.
While (Spinoza) was not formally educated at University, he had undergone the traditional Jewish educational program of Shephardic Jewry – which stressed the study of the Hebrew language and the Biblical knowledge. Thus gave way to further study of medieval Jewish philosophers Maimonides (1140-1205), Gersonides (1288-1344), and Hasdai Crescas (1340-1410), in whose writings the whole range of Aristotelian philosophy in its medieval setting was extensively and intensively discussed. It is likely that his study of the classical Jewish thinkers raised for Spinoza doubts which ultimately mushroomed into full-scale philosophical perplexities. Perhaps it was at this time too that he began his study of Latin, a language familiar to many of his coreligionists in Amsterdam and certainly to one of his teachers, Menasseh ben Israel, who wrote several philosophical treatises in that language. However, on this point there is no certainty; a number of Spinoza biographers date Spinoza’s entry into the world of Latin letters after his excommunication – from the Jewish community. If he did know latin prior to that event, he would been able to read Descartes’ writings, and these materials would only have aggravated Spinoza’s philosophical perplexities. (Remember Descartes lived in Holland from 1628 until 1649 and that many of his writings were first published there.)
When we look at Spinoza’s vocabulary, it is indeed thoroughly permeated by the medieval-Cartesian semantics. One might then raise the question, why do people say that he was the first modern philosopher? If he was so radical, why didn’t he create a new philosophical language, as did Aristotle or Hegel? The use of traditional terminology only misleads us into thinking that Spinoza was doing the same thing as did Descartes or Maimonides. A new philosophy should have a new vocabulary.
These queries and objections are quite natural and understandable; and occasionally both beginning and advanced readers of the Ethics often wish that Spinoza had completely cut his umbilical cord to his philosophical parents. Yet, the traditional terminology has at least one advantage: it allows Spinoza to debate with his predecessors on common ground and the common language. Spinoza really wanted to sever his ties with his philosophical past. One very effective way to do this is to come to grips head-on with this burden and all its trappings and to show that it is empty in its own terms. What Spinoza does then is to take the philosophical language of his predecessors and turn it against them, by showing that if these terms are clearly understood and consistently thought through, different conclusions will follow.
Let us take one example. If, as Descartes postulated, a substance is that which needs nothing else in order to exist, then there is, as he himself admits, only one substance, God. However, Descartes goes on to say that it is permissible to speak of substances that are not totally self-sufficient and autonomous: created minds and bodies. (Descartes, Principles Of Philosophy 1:51) To Spinoza this philosophical-linguistic license leads to serious logical and metaphysical sins. In adopting Descartes’ definition of substance but by adhering to it consistently, Spinoza produces both an effective argument against Descartes and a new theory of substance and God.
taken from: Ethics – Treatise on The Emendation Of The Intellect and Selected Letters, introduced by Seymour Feldman
Spinoza, who in his youth had become a pious devotee of Descarte’s dualistic belief that body and mind are separate, eventually realized the limits imposed by this view i.e. on fracturing the human experience into intellect and emotion, one was breaking up the whole picture of Life into individual elements that did not seem to add up into the whole. Unlike Descartes, Spinoza was able to communicate his own heretical belief that distinct ideas were true, indeed they were self-evidently true. No doubt Descartes enunciated this belief; but he did not consistently adhere to it throughout his own works, which attracted some disastrous results for his philosophy, as his critics were quick to point out. This firm and unshakable conviction that truth resides in clear and distinct ideas, which man is not only capable of possessing but actually possess. And, as if this is all the justification that is needed, he goes on to say that these ideas were fertile enough to produce a complete system of philosophy which, if not the best, is certainly a true system of philosophy. Spinoza never abandoned this conviction. This intuitive knowledge about distinct ideas being true, indeed being self-evidently true, is something of great importance for me. And this is what I am to explain here. No doubt we have seen that the Universe around us already uses self-similar structures to unfold its processes with. The picture of the neuron next to the universe seems to denote that we are using similar structures of matter in the brain to understand similar structures found in nature around us… Thus the brain, which gives rise to the mind and its ideas, by using these naturally recurring structures must also generate natural processes of mind that resemble the ultimate design of Universal flow i.e. it uses God’s own building blocks to precipitate a deep knowing with. And because of this interconnected union of cause and effect, I “feel” that there might also be a deep connection between the idea of biological evolution and fractal topography. But as of yet, I fear the understanding of complexity and dynamical systems that might be needed to prove this connection is beyond our current means. Saying that, I doubt it will be impossible, and very much hope that it is something that future scientists might well demonstrate.
Just as I, Spinoza was all to aware of the proper way to do philosophy; for philosophy is a science based upon clear and precise definitions, self-evident axioms, and valid argumentation. Something I have done very little of in these blogs… Nut that is besides the point for the moment. Because in order to provide a solid base for one’s radical views, he had to play the philosopher’s game. Utilizing the geometrical method Spinoza expresses and practices his epistemological convictions as he pursues metaphysical, psychological, and moral questions. For Spinoza, one should not begin to philosophize by reporting one’s own doubts or by venting “metaphysical doubts” in order to reach certainty, as did Descartes. For this can only lead to a philosophical dead-end: doubts breed doubts. Clear and distinct ideas, however, cannot be doubted; and that is why Spinoza begins his Ethics by laying down such ideas as definitions and axioms. Indeed, for Spinoza doubt is impossible. And Spinoza’s method then becomes his philosophy.
Rather than subjecting himself to the obvious and sealed fate of religious decree, he decided to open up to his experience of Life and let intuition guide his intellect into truth… And so, even though he played the game of a philosopher, I feel he was able to avoid the sophomoric trap of egocentric focus upon himself, and was thus able to forge a deeply branching view of conscious insight into the very nature of this material world and the reality it contains for us…
Spinoza believed God exists only philosophically and that God was abstract and impersonal. Spinoza’s system imparted order and unity to the tradition of radical thought, offering powerful weapons for prevailing against “received authority.” As a youth he first subscribed to Descartes’s dualistic belief that body and mind are two separate substances, but later changed his view and asserted that they were not separate, being a single identity. He contended that everything that exists in Nature i.e. everything in the Universe, is one Reality (substance) and there is only one set of rules governing the whole of the reality which surrounds us and of which we are part. Spinoza viewed God and Nature as two names for the same reality, namely the single substance (meaning “that which stands beneath” rather than “matter”) that is the basis of the universe and of which all lesser “entities” are actually modes or modifications, that all things are determined by Nature to exist and cause effects, and that the complex chain of cause and effect is only understood in part.
This very beautifully resembles the Buddhist theory of the Interdependent Origination of everything. According to this law, nothing has independent, permanent, or absolute existence. Everything is part of a limitless web of interconnections and undergoes a continual process of transformation. Every appearance arises from complex causes and conditions, and in turn combines with others to produce countless effects. By interrupting the causal chain at certain key points, the course of existence can be altered and effects prevented by eliminating their causes. The entry goes on to say…
His identification of God with nature was more fully explained in his posthumously published Ethics. That humans presume themselves to have free will, he argues, is a result of their awareness of appetites while being unable to understand the reasons why they want and act as they do. Spinoza has been described by one writer as an “Epicurean materialist.”
Spinoza contends that “Deus sive Natura” (“God or Nature”) is a being of infinitely many attributes, of which thought and extension are two. His account of the nature of reality, then, seems to treat the physical and mental worlds as one and the same. The universal substance consists of both body and mind, there being no difference between these aspects. This formulation is a historically significant solution to the mind-body problem known as neutral monism. The consequences of Spinoza’s system also envisages a God that does not rule over the universe by providence, but a God which itself is the deterministic system of which everything in nature is a part. Thus, according to this understanding of Spinoza’s system, God would be the natural world and have no personality.
This ideal that God would be “the essence of the deterministic system of which everything in nature is a part,” is an ideal that I very much feel at ease with. After all, man will never be able to know the exact motion, energy, character and property of every single object and particle i.e. both galaxy and subatomic particle, exactly at any one instant. This stupendous knowledge would be such a near impossible feat of perception that only a divine being OR God who is omnipresent and omnipotent could ever Know such an all-pervading thing. This idea of the ‘infinite‘ contained in a distillation of divination is the very essence of God. If God is the total sum of all the parts of the system i.e. everything in this universe and all the parallel universes and in all the other dimensions… Then God, who is omnipotent i.e. is not subject to perceiving illusions as we “mere mortals” do, will Know “itself” perfectly and do whatever it is that it is doing and flowing into i.e. it moves naturally and all Knowingly as a collective of all the parts that it is made up of and forces that are allowing it to move and change.
The identification of God with Nature, which is reflected in Spinoza’s frequent phrase “God, or Nature,” led many of his first readers to accuse him of atheism. Nor was this accusation restricted to the unwitting only; no less a philosopher that David Hume characterized Spinoza as an “atheist.” [D. Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Book 1, section 5, pp. 240-241] But as the German poet Novalis remarked, Spinoza was “a God intoxicated man”; indeed, there are passages in the Ethics in which Spinoza speaks of God with almost mystical ardor, especially in Part V. With due respect to Hume, we must say that Spinoza was no atheist. But what about pantheism? It is clear that for Spinoza no individual mode is itself a ‘God’; nor is the collection of such individual things God. God is no mere aggregate that can be divided up or decomposed; yet, each mode is collectively the “face” of God, or God exposed concretely. In this sense we cannot sever God from nature or conversely; for God is, as Spinoza stresses, the indwelling, or immanent, cause of the world, just as all the modes, individually or collectively, are in God. The total dependence of all modes upon God and the intimate and incessant causal activity of God obliterate any real gap between nature and God. Because the term ‘pantheism’ is vague and misleading, some commentators have suggested instead ‘pan-en-theism’: “everything is in God.” But, as we have indicated, this is only one side of the coin: true, everything is in God; yet God is everything too. Perhaps it would be better to avoid using both terms; neither label is an appropriate title for Spinoza’s system. Better to employ Spinoza’s own expression – ‘God, or Nature.’
But the term ‘nature’ has in this context a dual connotation. In the Scholium to Prop. 29 of Part 1 Spinoza distinguishes between two different facets of nature, which he labels Natura Naturans and Natura Naturata. Unfortunately, there are no suitable English equivalents for these technical terms in philosophical Latin. The Latin ‘natura’ derives from the verb ‘to grow,’ ‘to be born’; this in turn is derived from the Greek ‘phuo’ and ‘physis,’ from which we get the English ‘physics,’ a natural science. Reflected in this classical etymology is the idea of nature as a dynamical system of growth and activity. The phrase ‘Natura Naturans’ is a Scholastic term, in which the word “naturans” is the active participle, “nature naturing,” which for Spinoza connotes the active aspect of God, or nature. Here God is described as manifesting infinite energy, or power. The phrase ‘Natura Naturata,’ “nature natured,” however, contains the passive participle, ‘naturata,’ signifying nature as produced and referring to the modes. Nature, then, exhibits tow aspects: one productive, the other produced; yet both are different dimensions of one and the same substance, God.
Spinoza has described for us a picture of an infinite but unitary system of interrelated things and events. It is a further consequence of such a conception that all phenomena satisfy fixed laws. Nature is not only an ordered system, a point insisted upon by Aristotle and repeated by many of the medievals, but it is a determinist system. It is a world wherein not only lawfulness reigns but in which purpose is absent. And here we have another of Spinoza’s radical conclusions. His natural determinism not only precludes chance, contingency, and irregularity; it disallows our customary conception of events and things as exemplifying design and goals. Aristotle’s “natural teleology” has been completely abandoned in favor a model according to which nature “obeys” strict mechanistic laws that do not express of manifest any ultimate goals and purpose. The traditional dicta that God or nature does nothing in vain, that God does everything for the best and that there are no gaps in nature – are all reinterpreted by Spinoza in such a way that we get a totally different perspective on the world. True – God does nothing in vain; for God acts according to the laws of his perfect nature, which is true freedom. True – God does everything for the best; for everything that happens happens necessarily according to God’s nature, which is infinitely perfect. True – nature manifests no discontinuities; but that is because God acts regularly , consistently, and omnipotently. The common ways of describing natural phenomena as good for some purpose are all “fictions,” whereby man imposes his own arbitrary and limited perspective upon nature. Here Spinoza anticipates the dominant tendency in modern biology, which dispenses with teleological notions in favor of the conceptual apparatus of biochemical and biophysical theories. All of nature is for Spinoza too a system in which ultimate purposes have no sense.
Since all of nature constitutes a unitary system, indeed one substance, human nature must be seen as an integrated element within this total complex. The medieval-Cartesian attempt to distinguish man from the rest of nature, to elevate him above the rest of the animal kingdom, was seen by Spinoza as not only an illusory metaphysical extravagance but also as symptom of a faulty psychology, whose moral consequences are serious, as we shall see. Keep in mind that the title of Spinoza’s treatise is ‘Ethics,’ i.e. it is a book that is concerned with the human life and the right way to live. But there is no use in writing about ethics if we have an erroneous conception of nature in general and of human nature in particular.
taken from: Ethics – Treatise on The Emendation Of The Intellect and Selected Letters, introduced by Seymour Feldman
We must understand this need that we have had to refer to the ultimate divine flow of the natural world around us as God. For whenever we try to define God’s decree, we unwittingly separate others, with very the will of our own minds, from God’s divine flow. No doubt, when mankind was younger than we are today, He might have looked at men who had journeyed from afar and so, perceiving errors in their ways of being, been overly judgmental towards their actions and ways… For how could He understand the reasons behind something that He has never seen? For example… No doubt a man from the desert would conserve water and enjoy imbibing a bit of salt now and again… And if a man from the mountains came to the desert and asked for water because he was over heating, even though he did not look parched or really in need of water, and the desert man gave him only salt…. Wouldn’t the mountain dweller feel confused? Having never been in the desert before, perhaps the mountain dweller does not understand that salt will help him more than water… Thus because the mountain man cannot see that water is life and that his need would be better served with salt, he might presume a selfish nature for the desert dweller. Man is only as good at deducing things from his senses and his previous experiences… And if he has not experienced something for himself OR/AND if his senses sometimes mislead him to misinterpret a situation, then how can he be truly sure of anything?
If we try to ascribe a personality to something that has none, then we are violating the very definition of it. Let me use a common example of misrepresentation… One that we use daily, called “nothing.” To call nothing “nothing” is, by the very definition of naming it, making it something. And thereby it ceases to truly be nothing. In reality nothing cannot be described, as there is only an absence of everything. Nothing is empty of all measurement and meaning and devoid of any need or understanding. The very definition of zero is a deep all pervading ideal that relates to essence of God. To call God “God”, is in essence making the same mistake. When we call God “God” we are limiting the divine and eternal through man-made necessity to try to understand what God is. When mankind was young and innocent, he couldn’t help himself from doing this. But now, with the advent of science, math and philosophy, we can begin to Know and understand what we didn’t Know… Albeit indirectly by Knowing our error. When we see this, we might begin to understand how we trap ourselves into misunderstanding a thing. When this wisdom is truly learnt, one can begin to become free of one’s self, and see what the Buddhists call “samsara.”
Let us return once again to Spinoza…
In addition to substance, the other two fundamental concepts Spinoza presents, and develops in the Ethics are attribute – that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of substance, and mode – the modifications of substance, or that which exists in, and is conceived through, something other than itself.
Spinoza was a thoroughgoing determinist who held that absolutely everything that happens occurs through the operation of necessity. For him, even human behaviour is fully determined, with freedom being our capacity to know we are determined and to understand why we act as we do. So freedom is not the possibility to say “no” to what happens to us but the possibility to say “yes” and fully understand why things should necessarily happen that way. By forming more “adequate” ideas about what we do and our emotions or affections, we become the adequate cause of our effects (internal or external), which entails an increase in activity (versus passivity). This means that we become both more free and more like God, as Spinoza argues in the Scholium to Prop. 49, Part II. However, Spinoza also held that everything must necessarily happen the way that it does. Therefore, humans have no free will. They believe, however, that their will is free. In his letter to G. H. Schaller (Letter 62), he wrote: “men are conscious of their own desire, but are ignorant of the causes whereby that desire has been determined.”
No doubt we have touched on the area of free-will in a previous blog entitled “Do We Have Free Will?” And again, if we look closely, we can see that while we are lead to believe that we do have free will… Our perception and the resulting actions we chose are based on constructs of the body and mind, which are deterministic structures that are subject to laws and rules about the way they operate.
Thus, in Shirow Masamune’s “Ghost In The Shell,” when Major Motoko Kusanagi says:
“There are countless ingredients that make up the human body and mind, like all the components that make up me as an individual with my own personality. Sure, I have a face and voice to distinguish myself from others, but my thoughts and memories are unique only to me, and I carry a sense of my own destiny. Each of those things are just a small part of it. I collect information to use in my own way. All of that blends to create a mixture that forms me and gives rise to my conscience.
“I feel confined, only free to expand myself within boundaries.“
…she is in essence providing the viewer with a very accurate description of how free we all actually are. We are all confined – within these organic bodies, limited by our frailty, we need air to breath and food to nourish – only free to expand ourselves within these boundaries. Basically, it is only the way in which we perceive the environment around us that affords us most of our freedom. We can choose to see it with the limitations of social conditioning i.e. we are decide to simply use the memes that are passed down to us by our religious, political or moral decrees to define and understand our world with… OR we can think deeply about this experience (without digging a deep hole from which we cannot escape, as do most philosophers) and define our own terms and ideals, within reason to our needs, and build up either a greater fiction in which to live, or develop a better understanding more suited to the world around us. Either way… The choice is ultimately ours.
Spinoza’s philosophy has much in common with Stoicism in as much as both philosophies sought to fulfill a therapeutic role by instructing people how to attain happiness (or eudaimonia, for the Stoics). However, Spinoza differed sharply from the Stoics in one important respect: he utterly rejected their contention that reason could defeat emotion. On the contrary, he contended, an emotion can only be displaced or overcome by a stronger emotion. For him, the crucial distinction was between active and passive emotions, the former being those that are rationally understood and the latter those that are not. He also held that knowledge of true causes of passive emotion can transform it to an active emotion, thus anticipating one of the key ideas of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis.
There are many such constructs that we as humans take for granted in our every day lives… We use them and talk of them as though they were real… And yet we do not understand most of their true meanings. Rather we memetically use these ideas like parrots who simply repeat the words that they hear… Their inability to understand these words holds no bearing on their ability to reproduce them and string them into a scentence that seems to make sense. They mearly copy what they hear. But if we cannot understand their true meanings, then are our babblings really as “clear-cut” as we perceive them OR think them to be? Are we articulating anything meaningful, or are we just regurgitating what others have said before in our own slightly different way?
Which brings to mind Shirow Masamune’s “Ghost In The Shell” once again… At one point, while watching a “ghost-hacked” trashman dealing with the fact that his wife was nothing more than a simulated memory implanted in his mind, Batou says to General Motoko:
“That’s all it is: information. Even a simulated experience or a dream; simultaneous reality and fantasy. Any way you look at it, all the information that a person accumulates in a lifetime is just a drop in the bucket…”
Real, certain truths are hard to know. The universe is in a continual state of flux. Most of the ultimate truths that we, as a society, think we know for sure are not really truths. Rather they are perceived truths based on a combination of empirical, rational and function interpretations about that which we have observed. Thus the truths themselves are meaningless… Many will not stand the test of time. This it is the processes which allowed us to derive these “truths” that become all important. Processes are patterns… And these understanding these patterns gives us a better idea about reality and truth. Patterns, most of which are like the nonlinear dynamical equations that Lorenz studied in his weather systems, are prone to unpredictable change. Thus, in order to understand something with any certainty, we must embrace uncertainty. Then, once we have done this, we can begin to see truth as it should be seen: something that changes with time, circumstance and varying environmental pressures.
As we have seen… Man is prone to illusion. This is a truth. And in order to See clearly, We will all need to understand the human-condition better, just as Beau Lotto is doing. Then, once we can see the loop holes in our seemingly exacted perception of the world around us, we will be able to probe deeper into what we are, why we are, how we came into being and where we derive our understanding from. Perhaps then, many of the solid, every-day truths that we take for granted may be replaced by a deeper more penetrating realism that will allow us to function better as a species i.e. we may free ourselves from the greed, hatred, mindless over-population and other self-centered desires that clutter and place strain on our delicate planet… And perhaps in ridding ourselves of these capitalist ingrained values, we might be able to implement a more caring and ecologically sound way of living and understanding that will penetrate deeply into the surrounding environment. By educating ourselves through science, we begin to see the patterns residing within the complex chain of cause and effect that occurs within the planetary ecosystem here on Earth (something which is currently understood only in very basic parts) and thus understand how it forms complex cycles that oscillate in a multitude of interconnecting, delicate nonlinear dynamical systems. Anything tugging on one side of the system will also tug on all the infinite subsets of the system, until the combined viscosity of these seeming small and insignificant changes start to effect other areas of our ecosystem, perhaps warping some important creature and their life giving process, much like the honey bee and it’s pollenation cycle, into dysfunction.
Whether we want to hear it or not… Chaos is sensitive and unpredictable. This is a truth… A truth set in patterns that repeat themselves across many scales all over this universe, and probably even beyond it too.
This is my aim… When we are able to See some obvious patterns at work, we might be able to understand their flow. And having see the divine, we then might be able to see the natural flow that precipitates Life in the universe. For when one understands the complex interplay of all the forces of matter, the electro-magnetism lying central to these forces, as well as the principles guiding them – and do so all once – one can begin to see the flow of chaos and probablity, just as Boltzmann once saw it. And when we see this tide, and understand the workings of the human mind better, we will be able to separate certainty from the not-so-obvious stories and faerie-tales that man made-up long ago to explain his existence in the dark and unenlightened past. Within these blogs lies a system of empirical truths that can set you on a path that will lead you away from the socially confusion of everyday life… Only if you so choose it. For I’m not asking you to change… Rather, what I’m implying is that your effort to remain what you are is what limits you. And in a time when chaos and a deeper understanding provide humanity a freedom within the confines of old dogmatic ideals… Well… Wouldn’t you feel obliged to move on into new dizzying hights of understanding? So that you can provide a better life for your off-spring, without upsetting the delicate planetary ecosystem that supports us all… And ecosystem which is precisely based on chaotic ebbs and flows??? OR… Do you want to ignore the sacrifices that We all, as organisms here on planet Earth, have made on our journey thus far to reach these dizzying hights of being? Because by wrapping ourselves up in “consumerist delight” and ignoring this pattern of Life, we are stagnating into a habitual order… An order that is only doomed to fail in a Universe that undergoes continuous change.
As the Puppet Master said in “Ghost In The Shell”, “Life perpetuates itself through diversity, and this includes the ability to sacrifice itself when necessary. Cells repeat the process of degeneration and regeneration until one day they die, obliterating an entire set of memory and information. Only genes remain. Why continually repeat this cycle? Simply to survive by avoiding the weaknesses of an unchanging system.” If we do not change, then how can we grow? Do not become complacent with what you have now i.e. this never ending supply of food that many of us take for granted here in the Western world… It is not sustainable!
- “Chaos often breeds life, while order breeds habit…”
And so I’ll move on to the point of this blog… No doubt those of you who have read some of the other blogs within this website will have noticed some rather strange circles that were included at the top of some of the blogs? To be exact, there were eight in total…
Let us discuss these points once again very briefly so that we can understand what each of them was directing our attention towards:
Here we can begin to understand the process of the stars i.e. how the solar system that Earth exists within came into being. I provide as much evidence as science has afforded me to demonstrate the idea of accretion and planet formation in as clear and concise a way as possible. We even have the chance to understand the types of stars that form, their respective life spans, and therefore we can begin to glimpse how improbable that it was that our solar system came about in the way that it did.
In this blog I begin to address some important points about how Life, once the Earth had formed and cooled down from the immense forces of accretion, possibly came about. It demonstrates how easily amino acids can come into being i.e. a simple result of methane, carbon dioxide and electricity arcing through the atmosphere, and also demonstrate that complex hydrocarbon molecules form easily around stars as they ignite. We then move on to see probably the most fundamental natural process that demonstrates how life could have easily come into being i.e. the naturally occurring formation of lipids bilayers in water, which easily close into vesicles. We then look at the first fossil records and notice that a single type of cyanobacteria, called “Stromatolites,” existed 2 billion years after the Earth’s formation…
Here I provide nothing more than an article that I found in the Los Angeles Times on 31st July 2009 which raises some very important issues concerning human understanding and the evolution of religious ideals within society.
In this blog I present an atricle from New Scientist magazine that discusses the idea of what constitutes Life as we know it. Here we see how scientists are about to herald the second genesis of Life… A genesis that man has nudged in the right direction. From the simple organic matter that is found everywhere in the universe, science is now only moments away from recreating a similar organism to the first single celled organisms that took a foot hold here on Earth over 2 billion years ago.
Sir Roger Penrose offers a humbling and honest look into what “reality” really is. This constitutes the basis for our own experience of Life, and clearly demonstrates how each of us can be subject to imposing their own beliefs and notions onto what reality really is.
Susan Blackmore provides here very deep and penetrating look into what We, as human beings, are… In many ways one may find this the most troubling point of all. But ultimately, when one lets go of one’s egocentric delusion, it will become clear how natural and sound an explanation this observation realy is. Once we understand the delicate nature of how easily we can be led into making decisions, then we can begin to ask the important question about how this occurs?
Are we really as free as we think we are? In this blog we can begin to understand how and why the notion of free will is really nothing more than an illusion founded on misunderstanding. This important point paves the way to understanding how your freedom arises and how you can begin to untie yourself from dogmatic ideals as perceive new horizons of being.
The last of these points is probably the most important. Here Beau Lotto examines the human condition of Seeing, and demonstrates that we are more prone to illusion than we care admit. This will be the last humbling reminder that we should need to know that certainty is nothing more than a delusion between what we sense and what is really there. No doubt this delusion is very handy, for it allows us to navigate the dangers of the world very accurately so as to ensure our survival. However, there are aspects to this delusion that we must grasp in order to make better and more adequate decisions about what we can do to ensure our long term survival.
These are the points so far discussed. And I should mention that there is a key to deciphering what they show us… This key lies in their arrangement. Once in their respective places, one might begin to see the boundaries in which we are free to expand ourselves.
Remember not to look at the finger that is pointing towards the open sky… For looking at the finger is to miss the point in heaven that it is directing your attention towards.