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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12


Constance

Paranormal Adept
While that may be the case ( maybe some examples would help ), once it is realized that a position cannot be true, would it not be better to upgrade the position and carry on? After all, a true position can be equally or more "fecund" as a false one, the only difference is that starting with a sound premise is more likely to yield more accurate results, while starting with a false premise is generally a bad idea. So I really doubt that "often been the case" can be reasonably substantiated with respect to the fecundity of false positions.
The point I thought he was making is that speculations and ideas beget further speculations and ideas, some of which might be useful in expanding the basis on which we approach complex subjects. I'm suspicious of your clause "once it is realized that a position cannot be true" because it implies, as often appears in your claims, that you believe we are capable of knowing absolutely that some ideas are false.

For example, you state categorically that it is "impossible" that consciousness might survive, in some degree or fashion, the death of the body -- something none of us can be certain about. How much human experience do you have to reject in order to make that claim? A great deal, though you dismiss all of psychical research and parapsychology that supports the possibility of the survival of consciousness.

You also refer to "more accurate results" as a proof of the truth or falsity of premises and presuppositions, but as we see again and again in the history of science we shape our experiments to underwrite our hypotheses and theories. And this is the case also in philosophy, in which humans proceed from their assumptions about the nature of 'reality' that happen to be influential in their time and place.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Your post made me think of Ian McGilchrist's The Master and His Emissary and the emotional qualities of the left hemisphere being primarily anger and an often unwarranted optimism - both to be modulated by the right hemisphere which he argues has lost control in modern history. I think of it as the assumption that progress has a direction instead of that progress is always progress for some.
McGilchrist lectures on The Divided Brain

 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
fe·cund: adjective

1. fertile: capable of producing much vegetation or many offspring (formal)
2. highly productive: capable of producing many different works or works that are highly imaginative
I was glad to see that you provided definitions for the word 'fecund'. I took a moment just now to search in the Wallace Stevens Online Concordance for poems in which he used this word. Here are several instances, one of which had remained foremost in my mind these several decades:

From the Journal of Crispin (OP)
An Ordinary Evening in New Haven
Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, It Must Be Abstract
line 201 (x.4):
More fecund as principle than particle,​
line 111 (vii.3):
Much richer, more fecund, sportive and alive.​
line 298 (III.86):
Or searcher for the fecund minimum.​

The line that has stayed with me most prominantly over years now is the first one above -- "More fecund as principle than particle," from the long poem "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction."
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
I found it an interesting idea to ponder ( briefly ). I think we can get some value from it either as a literal or figurative statement. It reminds me of the idea that we tend to learn more by discovering we are wrong than by assuming we're always correct. Once we have established the truth about something, that's the end of it.

Discovering we are wrong opens up new possibilities to explore. I try to hold a fairly high bar in this regard, so it's the highlight of my day when someone proves me wrong. That's probably why I like to argue ( intellectually ) in a friendly way. It's also what seems to get me into trouble, because most people don't see being challenged or proven wrong as having done them any favor ( sadly ).
I think how people perceive the challenge could in part have to do with the approach, which varies from person to person - no one approach will likely come across as "friendly". And of course, you have to be sure that you are proving them wrong. :)
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
eta: Regarding the first definition of 'fecund' that Randle cited -- "1. fertile: capable of producing much vegetation or many offspring (formal)" -- we might look into Deleuze's metaphor of rhizomes, suggestive of the deep interconnections under the surface of the visible physical ground/soil of earth that produce and maintain the proliferation of much of the vegetation we see arising above the ground.
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
McGilchrist lectures on The Divided Brain

Yes and search the old threads - lots of references.

 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
The point I thought he was making is that speculations and ideas beget further speculations and ideas, some of which might be useful in expanding the basis on which we approach complex subjects. I'm suspicious of your clause "once it is realized that a position cannot be true" because it implies, as often appears in your claims, that you believe we are capable of knowing absolutely that some ideas are false. For example, you state categorically that it is "impossible" that consciousness might survive, in some degree or fashion, the death of the body -- something none of us can be certain about.
Due to the length of post required, I haven't been entirely clear on such concepts in the past. However I recently made an effort to refine the position here: Why Afterlives Are Impossible
How much human experience do you have to reject in order to make that claim? A great deal ...
When one understands the reasoning, they also understand why no amount of further information can make the claim for afterlives true.
... though you dismiss all of psychical research and parapsychology that supports the possibility of the survival of consciousness.
Not exactly. My position is that PSI research, particularly into afterlives, might be better served by focusing on hypotheses that are possible.
You also refer to "more accurate results" as a proof of the truth or falsity of premises and presuppositions, but as we see again and again in the history of science we shape our experiments to underwrite our hypotheses and theories. And this is the case also in philosophy, in which humans proceed from their assumptions about the nature of 'reality' that happen to be influential in their time and place.
I would say that "more accurate results" speak to the "direction of progress" that @smcder suggests. Accurate results may not in and of themselves constitute proof for the larger truth of a particular hypothesis, but I would submit that it gets us closer than inaccurate results.
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
eta: Regarding the first definition of 'fecund' that Randle cited -- "1. fertile: capable of producing much vegetation or many offspring (formal)" -- we might look into Deleuze's metaphor of rhizomes, suggestive of the deep interconnections under the surface of the visible physical ground/soil of earth that produce and maintain the proliferation of much of the vegetation we see arising above the ground.
Nice one 🌻
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Not to belabor the relevance of Stevens's poetry to the subjects we discuss, here are the links to poems and plays in which Stevens refers to 'categorical thinking':

Bowl, Cat and Broomstick [play] (OP)
Carlos Among the Candles [play] (OP)
Three Travelers Watch a Sunrise [play] (OP)
The Sail of Ulysses (OP)
Desire & the Object (OP)
Owl’s Clover, A Duck for Dinner (OP)
Owl’s Clover, The Old Woman and the Statue (OP)
From the Journal of Crispin (OP)
Lettres d’un Soldat (OP)
Looking Across the Fields and Watching the Birds Fly
To an Old Philosopher in Rome
An Ordinary Evening in New Haven
Thinking of a Relation between the Images of Metaphors
Description without Place
Crude Foyer
Chocorua to Its Neighbor
Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas
Man and Bottle
Dry Loaf
The Man with the Blue Guitar
Like Decorations in a Nigger Cemetery
Sea Surface Full of Clouds
Peter Quince at the Clavier
The Comedian as the Letter C, iv: The Idea of a Colony
Metaphors of a Magnifico
Le Monocle de Mon Oncle
line 7 (i.7):
I wish that I might be a thinking stone.​
line 20:
Of what was it I was thinking?​
line 56:
But on the banjo’s categorical gut,​
line 7 (i.7):
Thinking of your blue-shadowed silk,​
line 70 (iv.16):
Its bluest sea-clouds in the thinking green,​
line 55 (xvi.1):
If thinking could be blown away​
line 62 (vi.10):
The thinking of art seems final when​
line 63 (vi.11):
The thinking of god is smoky dew.​
line 320 (xxviii.4):
Thinking the thoughts I call my own,​
line 9:
Brown as the bread, thinking of birds​
line 11:
A manner of thinking, a mode​
line 123 (vi.1):
Of systematic thinking . . . Ercole,​
line 125 (vi.3):
Of what do you lie thinking in your cavern?​
line 131 (vi.9):
Half sun, half thinking of the sun; half sky,​
line 134 (vi.12):
To be happy because people were thinking to be.​
line 146 (vi.24):
Half thinking; until the mind has been satisfied,​
line 47 (x.2):
Of daylight came while he sat thinking. He said,​
line 64 (xiii.4):
And from what thinking did his radiance come?​
line 83 (xvii.3):
The stone, the categorical effigy;​
line 107 (xxii.2):
But resting on me, thinking in my snow,​
line 2:
That merely by thinking one can,​
line 98 (iv.30):
One thinking of apocalyptic legions.​
line 114 (v.16):
The categorical predicate, the arc.​
Title:
Thinking of a Relation between the Images of Metaphors​
line 353 (xx.11):
Who sits thinking in the corners of a room.​
line 80:
And frame from thinking and is realized.​
line 28:
Too much like thinking to be less than thought,​
line 47 (v.1):
Here I keep thinking of the Primitives—​
line 441 (IV.89):
But on the banjo’s categorical gut,​
line 70 (iv.27):
Thinking of heaven and earth and of herself​
line 568 (iii.12):
But of what are they thinking, of what, in spite of the duck,​
line 574 (iii.18):
Is each man thinking his separate thoughts or, for once,​
line 575 (iii.19):
Are all men thinking together as one, thinking
line 576 (iii.20):
Each other’s thoughts, thinking a single thought,​
line 9:
So that thinking was a madness, and is:​
line 33 (iii.3):
Thinking gold thoughts in a golden mind,​
line 145:
“He will be thinking in strange countries​
line 151:
“He will be thinking in strange countries​
line 155:
“He will be thinking in strange countries​
line 2:
I was always affected by the grand style. And yet I have been thinking neither of mountains nor of morgues. . . To think of this light and of myself . . . it is a duty. . . . Is it because it makes me think of myself in other places in such a light . . . or of other people in other places in such a light? How true that is: other people in other places in such a light. . . If I looked in at that window and saw a single candle burning in an empty room . . . but if I saw a figure. . . If, now, I felt that there was someone outside. . . The vague influence . . . the influence that clutches. . . But it is not only here and now. . . It is in the morning . . . the difference between a small window and a large window . . . a blue window and a green window. . . It is in the afternoon and in the evening . . . in effects, so drifting, that I know myself to be incalculable, since the causes of what I am are incalculable. . .​
line 27:
Oh, poetess is just the word at twenty-two! What you are thinking of is forty-two.​
line 55:
I was not thinking of that. I was thinking merely of the expression it gives to the portrait. That expression is vitally biographical.​
line 86:
As you like. My portrait is not a failure. Broomstick is right. A poetess should be of her day. But he is thinking of the poetess of forty-two: the sophisticated poetess. I am thinking of the unsophisticated poetess of twenty-two. If she happens to look like one of the dark-haired and dark-eyed Peloponnesians, that is not a rococo pose. It is an unaffected disclosure of her relationship.​
line 118:
I am sorry. I was thinking of a white holder. I thought we had come up the stalks and were going around the edge of the holder.​
line 128:
Pshaw! And imagine Bowl’s thinking it new. Only because he wanted to think well of his poetess. She is young. Therefore she is new. Or therefore her poetry is young. That is one of the most persistent of all fallacies. Her poetry is young if her spirit is young—or whatever it is that poetry springs from. Not otherwise. This emotional waste, like the first poem, the one about twilight, this stale monism like The Shadow of the Trees, this sophisticated green, green, green—it is all thirty years old at the least. Thirty years at the very least. I might even put it in the last century. But aside from the poems we have actually heard—and I daresay the book is full of others just like them—what I hold against Claire Dupray, above everything else, is just that she is not herself in her day. To be herself she must be free. She looks free (looking at the portrait). But she is not free in spirit, and therefore her portrait fails.​
 

smcder

Paranormal Adept
Due to the length of post required, I haven't been entirely clear on such concepts in the past. However I recently made an effort to refine the position here: Why Afterlives Are Impossible

When one understands the reasoning, they also understand why no amount of further information can make the claim for afterlives true.

Not exactly. My position is that PSI research, particularly into afterlives, might be better served by focusing on hypotheses that are possible.

I would say that "more accurate results" speak to the "direction of progress" that @smcder suggests. Accurate results may not in and of themselves constitute proof of the larger truth of a particular hypothesis, but I would submit that it gets us closer than inaccurate results.
The direction of progress I am talking about is the assumption that progress has a direction (ever increasingly upward) vs. the idea that progress might more adroitly be thought of as progress for some.

This comes from the "arch druid report" on "progress". (it seems very popular on this thread to put things in "quotes". ;-) One man's progress is another man's regress.


"It’s one thing to point out that going back to the simpler and less energy-intensive technologies of earlier eras could help extract us from the corner into which industrial society has been busily painting itself in recent decades; it’s quite another to point out that doing this can also be great fun, more so than anything that comes out of today’s fashionable technologies, and in a good many cases the results include an objectively better quality of life as well."
 
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USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
The direction of progress I am talking about is the assumption that progress has a direction (ever increasingly upward) vs. the idea that progress might more adroitly be thought of as progress for some.
Yes. I got that. I was alluding to the idea of the direction of progress in the context of the discussion. So if accuracy is seen as progress toward truth, then for every accurate result, we can add to the positive axis ( upward trend ) and for every inaccurate result we can subtract from it ( downward trend ).

In this situation it is generally accepted that progress should proceed upward, while those ( if any ) who prefer to see a downward trend are in the minority. So sure, some people might not see accurate results as making any progress toward truth, but the only possible motivation for that, is that they don't want to expose the truth, so any trend toward truth, is not progress for them.

Example: A lie detector that gives accurate results will determine whether a suspect is guilty or innocent. If the suspect is guilty, this will be progress for those seeking to solve the case, but it will likely not be seen as progress by the suspect, and overall it might not be seen as progress toward justice.
 
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Soupie

Paranormal Adept
Hey I just wanted to take a moment to express gratitude for all those who have participated in this discussion over the years. I have enjoyed all the diverse ideas you’ve shared as well as the thinkers you have introduced me to. This thread has been a fun and sometimes frustrating part of my life for the past several years. :)
 

Pharoah

Paranormal Adept
Hey I just wanted to take a moment to express gratitude for all those who have participated in this discussion over the years. I have enjoyed all the diverse ideas you’ve shared as well as the thinkers you have introduced me to. This thread has been a fun and sometimes frustrating part of my life for the past several years. :)
That’s great to hear.
It is certainly for me a rare treasure to have found such a diverse and creative set of individuals. One of the best things that has ever happened to me.
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Not to belabor the relevance of Stevens's poetry to the subjects we discuss, here are the links to poems and plays in which Stevens refers to 'categorical thinking':
I should probably read more poetry. In the meantime here's another way to look at categorical thinking: The Dangers of Categorical Thinking
Something else @Constance might be particularly interested in: See PDF Below:
On categorical thinking in general. I've been attempting to determine if there is any consensus on exactly what it means, and as is in keeping with its general conceptual interpretation, there appears to be a range of interpretations. The problem with that approach is that it leaves the interpretation itself open to a lot of personal bias. In one example a teacher holding an apple asks the class if the apple is part of the teacher's body. Everybody agrees it's not.

Then the teacher asks the class to judge when the apple becomes part of his body after he takes a bite out of it. The student's answers range in time from as soon as the teacher takes a bite, to when the teacher swallows the bite. The problem is that all students must make the choice of when it happens. They are never given the choice of saying it doesn't happen.

Nobody recognizes that the goalposts have been moved from the initial question being about the apple as a whole. Nobody is offered the choice of whether or not a bite of the apple constitutes "the apple in question" or if the bite constitutes any apple at all, but has simply become become food. The question is supposed to evoke an understanding that the boundaries between this and that and the other thing are indistinct. But it fails.

When nobody is given the option of choosing any other way they can look at a question, they are being locked into a particular paradigm. Anti-categorical thinking can therefore be as much of a trap as categorical thinking. The main difference is that for matters of practical importance, categorical thinking appears to be far more useful e.g. pregnant or not pregnant, debit or credit, forward or reverse, before or after ...
 

Attachments

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Constance

Paranormal Adept
I should probably read more poetry. In the meantime here's another way to look at categorical thinking: The Dangers of Categorical Thinking

Something else @Constance might be particularly interested in: See PDF Below:
Very glad you posted a link to this M.A. Thesis concerning WS's poetry and Buddhist thought. The guy who wrote this is very good indeed, so good that I looked for further publications by him on Stevens's poetry, but there seem to be none. Anyway, I want to add here the text of the short poem he discusses first, "The Snow Man," to make it easier for anyone else who reads the first section (ending top of pg. 21) to follow and evaluate Hahm's analysis of various parts of it.


The Snow Man
By Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is."


Source: Poetry magazine (1921)


ETA, I'm going to continue reading the thesis beyond pg. 21 tomorrow because the second poem he discusses is one I've posted here at least once in the past, "Landscape with Boat." I'll post that poem here tomorrow since one or more of you might want to read the author's analysis of it.
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Hmm, I'm going to copy that next poem now since I want to read it before going to bed.


Landscape with Boat

"An anti-master-man, floribund ascetic.

He brushed away the thunder, then the clouds,
Then the colossal illusion of heaven. Yet still
The sky was blue. He wanted imperceptible air.
He wanted to see. He wanted the eye to see
And not be touched by blue. He wanted to know,
A naked man who regarded himself in the glass
Of air, who looked for the world beneath the blue,
Without blue, without any turquoise hint or phase,
Any azure under-side or after-color. Nabob
Of bones, he rejected, he denied, to arrive
At the neutral center, the ominous element,
The single colored, colorless, primitive.

It was not as if the truth lay where he thought,
Like a phantom, in an uncreated night.
It was easier to think it lay there. If
It was nowhere else, it was there and because
It was nowhere else, its place had to be supposed,
Itself had to be supposed, a thing supposed
In a place supposed, a thing he reached
In a place that he reached, by rejecting what he saw
And denying what he heard. He would arrive.
He had only not to live, to walk in the dark,
To be projected by one void into
Another.

It was his nature to suppose
To receive what others had supposed, without
Accepting. He received what he denied.
But as truth to be accepted, he supposed
A truth beyond all truths.
He never supposed
That he might be truth, himself, or part of it,
That the things that he rejected might be part
And the irregular turquoise part, the perceptible blue
Grown dense, part, the eye so touched, so played
Upon by clouds, the ear so magnified
By thunder, parts, and all these things together,
Parts, and more things, parts.

He never supposed divine
Things might not look divine, nor that if nothing
Was divine then all things were, the world itself,
And that if nothing was the truth, then all
Things were the truth, the world itself was the truth.

Had he been better able to suppose:
He might sit on a sofa on a balcony
Above the Mediterranean, emerald
Becoming emeralds. He might watch the palms
Flap green ears in the heat. He might observe
A yellow wine and follow a steamer’s track
And say, “The thing I hum appears to be
The rhythm of this celestial pantomime.”

Wallace Stevens
 
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Constance

Paranormal Adept
On categorical thinking in general. I've been attempting to determine if there is any consensus on exactly what it means, and as is in keeping with its general conceptual interpretation, there appears to be a range of interpretations. The problem with that approach is that it leaves the interpretation itself open to a lot of personal bias. In one example a teacher holding an apple asks the class if the apple is part of the teacher's body. Everybody agrees it's not. . . .
Philosophy of Mind plays a major role in Consciousness Studies, and so for our purposes I think we need to begin to understand and distinguish Kant's categories of understanding/thinking from other types of categorization applied in everything from the sciences to the stock market. Here is a search that provides useful links concerning the Kantian categories. I think the first four sources linked should be most helpful.

kant's categories - Bing
 

USI Calgary

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Philosophy of Mind plays a major role in Consciousness Studies, and so for our purposes I think we need to begin to understand and distinguish Kant's categories of understanding/thinking from other types of categorization applied in everything from the sciences to the stock market. Here is a search that provides useful links concerning the Kantian categories. I think the first four sources linked should be most helpful.

kant's categories - Bing
Sounds like a plan. I will check that out. Happy Valentine's Day 💕
 

Constance

Paranormal Adept
Same to you. :)

Here's some music if you like the blues. I just posted it at my facebook page, as follows:

. . . If you like the blues, listen to my sister's favorite Blues Drive program from today, broadcast and archived via the internet from Milwaukee's WMSE-FM. Open this page to see today's playlist and click the archive of the program to download the MP3 of today's program.

Blues Drive - WMSE - 91.7FM
 


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