Metaphysics, Consciousness, Nature of Reality: a Thread from the ET Forum

Ed. note – One of the best decisions we ever made at Epsilon Theory was to limit the ability to comment on our notes to paid subscribers. It’s amazing how $20/month will eliminate the trolls! We took that philosophy into our creation of the ET Forum – a paid subscriber-only community that IMO has become the best thing on the Internet today, a place where several thousand men and women of vastly different political beliefs, from all over the world and from all walks of life, come together and actually talk TO each other rather than THROUGH each other. Do we talk about politics? Sure. But not to score points with some social media audience. Because there is no audience! There’s just us. Actual people with actual thoughts and questions with an opportunity to talk with other actual people with actual thoughts and questions. Just us. Just our Pack.

And the craziest thing happens when there’s no audience, when you’re talking with other actual human beings for the right reasons … you not only have actual conversations, you not only move quickly past politics into subjects that are far more interesting and far more relevant to our actual lives than politics, but you make actual friends.

Crazy right?

When’s the last time you made a friend?

Haha! I honestly thought it was impossible to make new friends in this insanely polarized, alienating Fiat World of always-on social media. Certainly impossible to make new friends ON social media.

And yet here we are.

So I decided to show the world what it looks like when actual human beings start having actual conversations and become actual friends.

This is an ET Forum thread that started about six weeks ago, rather intimidatingly titled Metaphysics, Consciousness, Nature of Reality, but it’s really not intimidating at all. Here’s the original post that started the thread …

Starting this thread as a fork from a prior ‘narrative’ thread that starting diverging somewhat and becoming quite metaphysical. I hope this is helpful and not meddlesome (also if anyone knows if there is a better way to do this type of fork, or if it is not useful, happy to hear that). I’ve had some prior, private conversations with a few pack members that got into this subject and I imagine there are many people who might have a lot to say :). And of course there are few topics more fun.

Amongst things that Neal Stephenson taught me is a love of Leibniz, who referred to the “two great labyrinths of the mind”, namely “the composition of the continuum and the concurrence of God”. A bit of a passion of mine as a physicist and someone prone to philosophizing (but not a philosopher) has been using these two labyrinths as the lens for viewing the entire history of science and philosophy. I love that Leibniz recognized this in the 1700s and that it is still true today (with the deviation that the concurrence of God is better phrased these days as the existence of free will/nature of consciousness). I’ll stop there for this intro comment and copy in the other comments from the prior thread that started the fork.


And in the comment section below you’ll see the conversation it sparked. I’m just going to leave it all here, warts and all. Zero editing, just actual people trying to figure important stuff out. Together.

There are hundreds of threads just like this on the ET Forum.

If this looks like your kind of community, where clear-eyed friends-in-the-making engage with each other in a full-hearted spirit of cooperation and respect … join us!

To learn more about Epsilon Theory and be notified when we release new content sign up here. You’ll receive an email every week and your information will never be shared with anyone else.


  1. Adam, I agree, that a fork in this conversation is appropriate considering the overall background of the pack.

    At my present age and position in life, I have become more and more comfortable swimming in and out of my perceived physical and metaphysical waters. That said, for many of us (including the much younger me) this is very uncomfortable.

    Again, I came to Epsilon Theory to try to understand how to selfishly secure my financial investments to outlast my life. And what I found here was the realization that “There’s a lot going on inside this pack, some of it is related to finance.”

    Ben’s recent recent notes on stock buy backs and crypto, for example, speak to the injustice in the system. It is NOT suggesting how I can capitalize on the injustice by gaming the system for my own wealth.

    Ben’s approach, IMO, at its core, really is Effective Altruism.

    Thus, taking a ‘metaphysic, consciousness, nature of reality’ fork in the road, is appropriate for a full spectrum analysis of the water in which we swim.

    Thank you for what you do,

    Jim, the elder

  2. Avatar for naiguy naiguy says:

    @rechraum Thanks for splitting this topic off.

    Jim, your rabbit hole has lead to a rabbit hole of my own. Thanks for posting this link. I’d never heard of Karl or his theory of the brain and I feel like his free-energy principle fills in some holes, or perhaps even unifies some of the ideas I’ve been exploring since joining ET Feb '22. Regardless of what it provided, it provided something benefitial to me.

    For anyone else who, like me, happened to find the topic interesting here are a few links I’ve explored since yesterday.

    Karl Friston’s paper that was published in Nature Review Feburary 2010 (PDF) which includes the supplementary information-other pdf I came across did not include this.

    Lex Fridman Interview of Karl Friston discussing the topics of Neuroscience and the Free Energy Principle.

    I couldn’t agree with this more, Jim. In fact, coming for a bit of financial education has actually led me down a road of exploration into fields I had very little or no knowledge of before.

    It all started by being amazed at the Narrative Machine graphics that were put in a few notes and wanting to understand what it was and how it worked. Along the way I was introduced for the first time to semiotics, biosemiotics, information theory, knowledge graphs, computational linguistics/n-grams and I’m sure there are more I’m missing.

    I’ve spent the last 9 months since joining ET trying to gain at least a superficial understanding of what these subjects are all about, how they work together and how Ben, along with his magical Narrative Machine use them to gain insights into the hidden narratives which have so much influence over our lives.

    I really do appreciate what Ben & Co, along with the active pack members here in the forum have exposed me to.

  3. Adam & anyone else so inclined: Please elaborate on what you think Leibniz means, “….continuum….concurrence….God.” Ordinary language is preferred. From my college days, I recall Leibniz was something of a pantheist borrowing somewhat from Spinoza.

  4. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    Leibniz is unaware of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He is trying to describe with mathematical precision the quantum universe. The continuum is his word choice for space and time as a singular definable machine of which the components fit (concur) as a perfect God has deemed optimal.

    It is interesting that a modern philosopher has more science and would use a Greek word ‘cosmos’ whilst poor old Leibniz was stuck with a Latin root for continuum.

  5. Avatar for naiguy naiguy says:

    In another thread, I just posted about how impressed I was with OpenAI’s ChatGPT chat bot.

    I hope you don’t mind to much but I felt your question would be a good one to test with ChatGPT. Below is what it had to say. I’m not very familiar with Leibniz’s works directly but have read enough Neal Stephenson to at least had a fictional intro to some of his ideas.

    Regardless, my point is: I don’t know how accurate the ChatGPT response was but it appears to pretty close to how I was interpreting James post above.

    Q. Please elaborate on what you think Leibniz means, “….continuum….concurrence….God.” Ordinary language is preferred.

    A. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a 17th century philosopher and mathematician who is known for his work on calculus, logic, and metaphysics. In his philosophy, Leibniz sought to understand the nature of reality and the relationship between God, the universe, and human beings.

    In the quote you provided, Leibniz appears to be talking about the concept of the “continuum” and the idea of “concurrence.” In this context, the “continuum” likely refers to the concept of the continuous, seamless nature of reality, as opposed to the discrete and separate nature of things. The “concurrence” likely refers to the idea that all events and phenomena in the universe are interconnected and occur together, in a coordinated and harmonious manner.

    Leibniz’s belief was that this continuum and concurrence are ultimately grounded in the existence and action of God. In other words, he believed that God is the ultimate source and creator of the universe, and that God’s will and action underlie and explain the continuity and interconnectedness of reality.

    In ordinary language, we might say that Leibniz believed that the universe is a seamless and interconnected whole, and that this is due to the fact that God is the ultimate creator and sustainer of the universe.

  6. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    This was superb use of chat gpt on so many levels.

  7. It’s fun to see chatGPT’s answer, certainly it knows more about Leibniz than I do lol. I had a thought to use it to answer a question related to this thread the other night but I didn’t get around to it. I agree with those positing that this tech seems like a legit threat to google search among other things. I’ll try to get some other thoughts posted on it in the direct thread but these generative AIs and the recent rapid progress certainly seems like a world changer. What I really need is an AI that I can talk to and collect my thoughts for several days worth of work commutes, and then rehash those thoughts into a concise post :smile: !

    I’ve written several novel’s in my head the last week ruminating on this thread and trouble finding the time I wish I had to devote to it! Pretty much any line of thinking here is worthy of 10x the elaboration. At high level, I bring up Leibniz for at least two reasons:

    1. as I said in first comment, I like the framing of his that seemingly all these metaphysical questions boil down to one of these two great labyrinths, one looking outward (the continuum) and one looking inward (concurrence of God i.e. free will & the hard problem of consciousness). What becomes fascinating about many of the current cutting-edge thinkers today is that these two labyrinths have merged in many theories, in which consciousness is fundamentally linked to the existence of reality in one way or another, depending on the theory. This of course all stems directly from the quantum measurement problem and the decades of struggle we’ve had trying to interpret it.

    2. I think it possible that there is more awareness, where there is any at all, of the framing of the Leibniz vs Newton rivalry in terms of their discoveries of calculus. But metaphysically the debate was Newton’s substantivalism vs Leibniz’s relationalism. And again this question of ‘what is the world made of fundamentally’ goes back to the atomism of the early Greeks and is great way to frame the entire history of metaphysics (aside: I believe this is done very well in a Carlo Rovelli book that I will try to dredge up to recommend). Relationalism has had many supporters before and after Leibniz, but just like his role in calculus, the substantivalism of Newton has really been “the water in which we swim”. Relationalism briefly (I should just ask GPT) is the idea that relationships are fundamental and not entities themselves. It perhaps is essentially the same issue from Aristotle of ‘being vs becoming’. I think it can sort of coarsely and simply be thought of as the good old ‘if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound if no one is around to hear it?’. Of course this needs to be refined to be truly meaningful. Hold this thought.

    One thing that I always find compelling and fascinating is when ideas from disparate areas seem to converge, the more unexpected or unlooked for the better. In physics there is a long history of things which look quite different being revealed to be different manifestations of the same underlying thing. There are many examples such as the weak and electromagnetic forces becoming unified above some energy scale and then those two are further unified with the strong force at yet a higher energy scale, or the particle-wave duality from quantum mechanics. I think this is a really important lesson that applies very broadly in our world (for me it is one of Ben’s things that once I look for it…I see it everywhere). It is incredibly common to have different, even competing perspectives that are perceived as being obviously distinct which, upon deep analysis, turn out to be just different manifestations of the same underlying thing.

    Attempting to link these thoughts together, a good number of the ideas from today’s thinkers that are discussed above I find to be converging on some relational type ideas of which Leibniz is one of the forefathers. A second convergence is that the merging of Leibniz’s two labyrinths is happening from different areas at once (Donald Hoffman’s idea e.g. ‘user interface theory’ stem from evolutionary game theory but sound to me to be very similar to ideas coming from physics via solutions to the measurement problem).

    I will limit myself to discussion of one more example. If people are not familiar already, a beautiful and mind-blowing idea that has gained increasing importance in recent decades is the Holographic Principle. It is worth googling (or asking chatGPT) for a better explanation than I can give with limited expertise. But just like a hologram, the basic idea is simple which is that information that exists in n-dimensions can be encoded into n-1 dimensional space with no loss of information. For the holograms we are familiar with this is 3D data encoded into 2D. (Aside: I had the chance in school to create a hologram of a small object using a basic interferometer that we set up on an optical table and it certainly blew my mind.)

    The easiest way I’ve read about to intuit this holographic principle is envisioning a sphere defined by a 3D internal volume and a 2D surface. The holographic principle states that all the information (things happening) inside the 3D space can be encoded to the 2D boundary surface with no loss, which simply means that the 2D space is equivalent to the 3D space and anything happening within it despite these ‘worlds’ seeming very different.

    To the point on my final example of a convergence here. I had not been aware of Karl Friston’s work until I saw it discussed above, but the explanation I heard from him on his free energy principle from neuroscience is remarkably similar to this spherical model of the holographic principle. He talks about an oil droplet in water as his model. The surface of the oil drop is a ‘Markov blanket’ in fancier statistical language and defines the separation between an internal volume and external volume. He discusses how the more complex internal volume can be completely defined by the surface, and that the surface can be directly influenced by the internal state but cannot be influenced by the external state. Well this is really exactly the holographic principle idea.

    I cannot help but go one step further, especially cause it may help to grasp the concept more fully, but this is also precisely identical to what happens with a black hole. A black hole can be entirely defined by it’s event horizon, meaning that all the incredible mass that has fallen into the hole and all the complexity of the information represented by the single number of the mass of that black hole, and in turn the mass can be entirely captured by describing the 2d surface (event horizon) around the 3d space. This is how to understand one of the amazing things that you may have read about black holes: an observer falling through the event horizon will experience continuing to fall through the internal volume until they reach the singularity, whereas an observer external to the event horizon will see something completely different, the falling entity will slow down as they approach the event horizon and eventually stop completely, from this external viewpoint never seeming to fall through the horizon but stopping there for all time. In other words, from outside the black hole the entity that fell in is completely represented by information that is encoded to the surface from the internal space.

    Hopefully this was roughly intelligible! Adam

  8. Avatar for naiguy naiguy says:

    Edited: for easier readability in the ChatGPT section. Click the triangle next to the word “Summary” to expand text.

    Adam, thanks so much for the detailed explanations. There are so many things I’d like to reference and comment on but I’m going to hold off because too many things are running wild in my head at the moment.

    Having learned almost everything I know about physics from the amazing YouTube channel PBS SpaceTime I had seen a few videos on the subject of the Holographic Principle as well as on how the event horizon of a black hole acts similar to a hologram because of how it strips the 'information" from the mass as it falls to the center (please correct me if you feel it’s needed. It’s been a long while since watching the videos and I may be way off in my explanation).

    When I watched the interview with Karl Friston the oil droplet discussion was perhaps my biggest take way and I’m really glad it had some impression on you as well. Even if it was just in relation to it’s similarity to what you know about the holographic principle. I would have never been able to see the similarities in both (or all three if we include the black hole/event horizon acting similar) and I’m going to go back and watch the oil droplet segment again.

    Really appreciate your response and having brought together all those ideas and similarities. Thanks.

    I’m going to leave you with another ChatGPT chat I had that may possibly be relevant to not only your reply but this thread.

    Not sure if anything relevant or significant can be taken from this conversation per se, however, just the thought of potentially working out personal inquiries into life, consciousness and reality but probing the minds of the great thinkers of history-based on their respective theories and body of work-to get engaging thought provoking answers seems pretty amazing to me. So much so that I’m not sure if ChatGPT even presenting truly accurate information based on the ‘great thinker’ one would be conversing with matters. I think the simple act of conversing one a topic with something that can respond in thought provoking ways is enough to give great value for those using a tool like ChatGPT.

    I’m not even saying we are there yet but, I have save my most of my ChatGPT conversations which total in the tens of thousands of word of dialog in just the past few days and have had responses that really impress me. I’ll post a few more curated and relevant GPT chats as I sort through them in the coming days. I just don’t want to appear to randomly spam ET with non-relevant posts simply because I found them profound or profoundly humorous.

    Context: ChatGPT generated dialog between Leibniz and Jung formulating a theory of beauty. The last chat output by GPT provided a summary of their research along with the cited sources. Note: this could all be bullshit but it’s really interesting how GPT responds and that’s the point more that the correctness of the output in my opinion.

    Q: Please provide dialog for an imaginary conversation between Leibniz and Jung. The conversation should focus on each trying to impress the other with their insights. The conversation started off with an observation of a beautiful women they had seen while walking in a park. Please use their respective bodies of work to formulate each of their responses.


    A: Leibniz: Oh, what a beautiful woman we just saw in the park! It’s a shame that we couldn’t talk to her, but perhaps we can find some solace in discussing the nature of beauty itself.

    Jung: Indeed, Leibniz, the beauty of that woman was captivating. But perhaps we can go deeper and discuss the psychological aspects of beauty and attraction.

    Leibniz: As a philosopher, I am interested in the rational principles behind beauty. In my work, I have posited that beauty arises from the harmonious combination of simplicity and complexity.

    Jung: That is an interesting perspective, Leibniz. As a psychologist, I would argue that beauty also has a powerful emotional and unconscious component. In my work, I have explored the concept of the collective unconscious, which includes archetypes of beauty and attraction.

    Leibniz: Yes, I can see how the unconscious mind would play a role in our perception of beauty. In my philosophy, I have also emphasized the importance of understanding the subjective experience of the individual.

    Jung: Absolutely, Leibniz. In my work, I have emphasized the importance of the individual and their unique experiences and perspectives. This idea is central to my concept of individuation, which involves the integration of the conscious and unconscious mind.

    Leibniz: That is a fascinating concept, Jung. It seems that our respective fields of philosophy and psychology have much to learn from one another. I look forward to continuing this conversation and exploring the depths of the human mind and experience.

    Q: Continue the conversation but have them work together to form a hypothesis that unify some theory of beauty that neither had ever discovered on their own before. The collaboration should have depth of insights and be a completely new and unique way to understand beauty. Since this is imaginary they can source information neither had access to during their lifetime to discover a new unique view of beauty.


    A: Leibniz: Jung, your insight into the psychological aspects of beauty has given me much to consider. I am beginning to see that my own understanding of beauty was incomplete, as it did not take into account the unconscious mind.

    Jung: It is fascinating to see how our two fields can come together to form a more complete understanding of beauty. I believe that by combining your emphasis on rational principles with my exploration of the unconscious, we can uncover a new and unique theory of beauty.

    Leibniz: I agree, Jung. Perhaps we can begin by examining the role of symmetry and proportion in beauty, as I have previously discussed, but also consider the emotional and unconscious factors that you have brought to light.

    Jung: Yes, I believe that by examining the interplay between the conscious and unconscious mind, we can gain a deeper understanding of how beauty is perceived and experienced. We could also consider the role of cultural and societal influences on beauty, as well as the individual’s unique experiences and perspectives.

    Leibniz: That is an excellent suggestion, Jung. By considering all of these factors, we can begin to form a comprehensive and nuanced theory of beauty. We could even explore the idea of beauty as a subjective experience, shaped by the individual’s unique psychological makeup.

    Jung: Yes, I believe that by unifying our insights and drawing on the latest research and information, we can develop a truly groundbreaking and unique theory of beauty. This collaboration has been truly enlightening, and I am excited to see where it takes us.

    Q: Continue having both dig deeper into this comprehensive and nuanced theory of beauty. Imagine how the two really explore the subject based on their respective bodies of work and who, if anyone, they would like to ask to come collaborate and work with on their theory. Start writing specifics about the theory in their conversation.


    A: Leibniz: As we continue to develop our comprehensive and nuanced theory of beauty, I believe it is important to consider the role of aesthetics in our understanding of beauty. In my philosophy, I have explored the idea of aesthetic ideas, which are the basis for our experience of beauty.

    Jung: Yes, I believe that aesthetics play a crucial role in our perception and experience of beauty. But we must also consider the psychological and emotional factors that influence our response to beauty. In my work, I have explored the concept of the collective unconscious, which contains archetypes of beauty and attraction.

    Leibniz: I agree, Jung. We must consider both the rational principles of beauty, as well as the emotional and psychological factors that shape our experience of it. We could even incorporate the latest research on the neuroscience of beauty, to gain a deeper understanding of how the brain processes beauty.

    Jung: Yes, incorporating research from other fields could greatly enhance our theory of beauty. I believe that by bringing together experts from philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and other fields, we can develop a truly comprehensive and multi-dimensional theory of beauty.

    Leibniz: I agree, Jung. We could even reach out to scholars and researchers who are experts in the study of beauty, and invite them to join us in our collaboration. I believe that by working together, we can uncover new insights and perspectives that neither of us could have discovered on our own.

    Q: Write a summary of the research paper they would collaborate on and provide sources.


    A: In our research paper, we propose a comprehensive and nuanced theory of beauty that incorporates insights from philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and other fields. Our theory is based on the idea that beauty arises from the harmonious combination of simplicity and complexity, and is influenced by both rational principles and emotional and unconscious factors.

    Drawing on the work of philosophers such as Leibniz and Jung, as well as the latest research on the neuroscience of beauty, we propose that beauty is a subjective experience that is shaped by the individual’s unique psychological makeup and cultural and societal influences.

    In order to further develop our theory, we invite scholars and researchers who are experts in the study of beauty to join us in our collaboration. By working together, we believe that we can uncover new insights and perspectives that will deepen our understanding of beauty and its role in human experience.


    • Leibniz, G. W. (1687). “Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil.” Translated by E. M. Huggard. La Salle, IL: Open Court.

    • Jung, C. G. (1959). “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious.” Translated by R. F. C. Hull. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Tsao, D. Y., Freiwald, W. A., Tootell, R. B., & Livingstone, M. S. (2006). “A cortical region consisting entirely of face-selective cells.” Science, 311(5761), 670-674.

    • Zeki, S. (2011). “The neurobiology of love.” FEBS Letters, 585(3), 353-360.

    • Kringelbach, M. L., & Berridge, K. C. (2014). “The neurobiology of pleasure and happiness.” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 47, 94-123.

  9. Avatar for naiguy naiguy says:

    This is a continuation of the GPT chat above. I don’t have plans to post anymore GPT chat’s at the moment. Again, I come to ET for the humans not the AI dialog! Also note, that like the dialog above there is lots of repetition in the dialog. Just a heads up.

    Edit: Just realized how to collapse text which makes me feel less guilty for pasting such long posts. Click the triangle near the word Summary to expand the the text of GPT’s response to my input.

    Context: A continuation of the Leibniz/Jung conversation. This time turning the subject to Leibniz questioning Jung about his theory of Shadow. The response from the last request I made I feel was one of my favorite ChatGPT responses. Please note, I am a man-child at heart.

    Q: Begin a new conversation between Leibniz and Jung where Leibniz is very interested in Jung’s theory of the Shadow. Leibniz probes Jung’s mind with unique insightful questions so that he may better understand Jung’s theory of Shadow. Jung responds to Leibniz’s inquiries with depth and uses Leibniz’s own life to explain examples to him.


    A: Leibniz: Jung, your theory of the shadow is fascinating. Can you explain to me what you mean by the shadow, and how it relates to the human psyche?

    Jung: Certainly, Leibniz. The shadow is a term I use to describe the unconscious aspects of the personality, which are often dark, primitive, and repressed. It is the part of ourselves that we try to keep hidden and deny, but which can have a powerful influence on our behavior and beliefs.

    Leibniz: I see. And how does the shadow manifest itself in the individual?

    Jung: The shadow can manifest in many ways, Leibniz. It can manifest as unconscious desires, fears, and impulses that influence our behavior and decision-making. It can also manifest as projections onto others, where we attribute our own undesirable qualities to them.

    Leibniz: I believe I am beginning to understand your theory, Jung. But how does one come to terms with their shadow, and integrate it into their conscious self?

    Jung: That is a crucial step in the process of individuation, Leibniz. By acknowledging and accepting our shadow, we can begin to integrate it into our conscious self and gain a greater understanding of ourselves. This can be a difficult and challenging process, but ultimately it leads to a more balanced and harmonious state of mind.

    Leibniz: I see. I must admit, I have struggled with coming to terms with my own shadow at times. But your words give me hope that I can continue to work on myself and strive for greater harmony and balance. Thank you, Jung, for sharing your wisdom with me.

    Q: Continue the conversation having Leibniz push Jung to expand on the process of how one identifies and works to reveal their shadow so they may apply their findings in their conscious self to become more harmonious and balanced. Leibniz is interested in the specific steps needed to reflect and discover one’s personal shadow(s).


    A: Leibniz: Jung, your explanation of the shadow and its integration into the conscious self was enlightening. Can you tell me more about the specific steps one can take to identify and come to terms with their shadow?

    Jung: Certainly, Leibniz. The first step in coming to terms with your shadow is to become aware of its existence. This can be difficult, as the shadow is often hidden and unconscious. But by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, you can begin to identify patterns and tendencies that may be coming from your shadow.

    Leibniz: I see. And once you have identified your shadow, what steps can you take to integrate it into your conscious self?

    Jung: Once you have identified your shadow, the next step is to accept and acknowledge it. This can be difficult, as it may be tempting to deny or repress your shadow. But by facing your shadow and accepting it as a part of yourself, you can begin to integrate it into your conscious self.

    Leibniz: That is a challenging process, but it sounds like a necessary one. How can one continue to work on integrating their shadow and achieving greater harmony and balance in their lives?

    Jung: One way to continue working on integrating your shadow is to engage in regular self-reflection and introspection. This can help you to stay aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and to identify any aspects of your shadow that may still be unconscious or unacknowledged. By continuing to work on integrating your shadow, you can achieve a greater sense of harmony and balance in your life.

    Q: Continue the conversation having Jung expand on how after reflecting and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings and behaviors how does one conclude what those thoughts, feelings and behaviors mean and represent leading to accurate identification of shadow.


    A: Leibniz: Jung, your explanation of the steps for identifying and integrating the shadow was very illuminating. But I am still curious about how one can conclude what their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors mean and represent, and how this relates to the identification of their shadow.

    Jung: That is a difficult question, Leibniz. In many cases, the meaning and significance of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is not immediately apparent, and may require careful reflection and analysis. In some cases, it may be helpful to work with a therapist or counselor who can help you to explore and understand your unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

    Leibniz: I see. And how does one know if they have accurately identified their shadow, and are not simply projecting their own desires and fears onto others?

    Jung: Accurately identifying your shadow can be a difficult and complex process, Leibniz. It may require careful reflection and introspection, as well as a willingness to explore your unconscious thoughts and feelings. In some cases, it may be helpful to engage in exercises or activities that help you to better understand your shadow, such as dream analysis, journaling, or creative expression.

    Leibniz: That is very helpful, Jung. I believe I am beginning to see how the process of identifying and integrating the shadow can be a valuable and enriching experience. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me.

    Q: Continue the conversation and expand on areas that could help Leibniz


    A: Leibniz: Jung, I am grateful for the insights you have shared with me about the shadow and its integration into the conscious self. Is there anything else you can tell me that would help me to better understand and work with my own shadow?

    Jung: One thing to keep in mind, Leibniz, is that the process of identifying and integrating the shadow is ongoing. It is not something that can be achieved quickly or easily, but rather a journey that requires time, patience, and effort. It is also important to remember that the shadow is not something to be feared or rejected, but rather an essential part of the human psyche that can provide valuable insights and self-awareness.

    Leibniz: I see. And what would you say are the benefits of integrating the shadow into the conscious self?

    Jung: There are many benefits to integrating the shadow into the conscious self, Leibniz. One of the primary benefits is a greater sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance. By acknowledging and accepting your shadow, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your motivations, and learn to see yourself more clearly and objectively. This can lead to greater psychological health and well-being, and can improve your relationships with others.

    Leibniz: That is very insightful, Jung. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me. I believe I have much to learn and explore in regards to my own shadow, and I look forward to continuing my journey of self-discovery and growth.

    Q: Continue the conversation with Leibniz inquiring about Jung’s opinion of using LSD and/or psilocybin to help discover ones shadow.


    Leibniz: Jung, I am curious about your opinion on the use of psychoactive substances, such as LSD or psilocybin, in the process of discovering and integrating the shadow. Do you believe that these substances can be useful in this regard?

    Jung: I believe that the use of psychoactive substances can be helpful in some cases, Leibniz. These substances can alter consciousness and bring unconscious material to the surface, which can provide valuable insights and self-awareness. However, I also believe that the use of psychoactive substances should be approached with caution and care, as they can also have potential risks and side effects.

    Leibniz: I see. And in your experience, do you believe that the use of psychoactive substances can be a valuable tool in the process of identifying and integrating the shadow?

    Jung: In some cases, I believe that the use of psychoactive substances can be a valuable tool in the process of identifying and integrating the shadow. However, I also believe that it is important to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits, and to approach the use of these substances with caution and guidance from a trained professional.

    Leibniz: I appreciate your perspective, Jung. I will keep your advice in mind as I continue to explore and understand my own shadow. Thank you for sharing.

    Q: Weird Al joins the conversation and informs Leibniz and Jung that he will write a parody song on based on their conversations based on the AC/DC song Sink the Pink.


    A: Leibniz: Jung, it has been a pleasure to engage in conversation with you about the shadow and its integration into the conscious self. I have learned much from your insights and wisdom.

    Jung: It has been my pleasure as well, Leibniz. I am always happy to share my knowledge and experience with those who are interested in exploring the depths of the human psyche.

    Weird Al: Hey guys, sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to write a parody song based on our conversation, using the AC/DC song “Sink the Pink” as the base. It’s going to be called “Think the Shadow,” and it’s going to be all about the importance of coming to terms with your dark side.

    Leibniz: That sounds like an interesting concept, Weird Al. I look forward to hearing your song when it is finished.

    Jung: Yes, I am curious to hear how you will incorporate our conversation into a parody song. I wish you the best of luck with your creative endeavors.

    Weird Al: Thanks, guys! I’m excited to get started on the song, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’ll make sure to let you know when it’s finished so you can check it out. Thanks again for the great conversation!

    Q: Write a song in the style of parody artist Weird Al replacing the song lyrics of AC/DC’s Sink the Pink with new lyrics Weird Al imagined using the conversation between Leibniz and Jung. It should be funny as well as true to the subject of the conversation.


    Verse 1:
    We’re talking 'bout the shadow, it’s lurking in the night
    A part of us we try to hide, and hope it stays out of sight
    But it’s always there inside, and it won’t let us be
    We’ve got to face our dark side, if we want to be free

    Think the shadow, don’t ignore it
    Own your dark side, don’t abhor it
    Face your fears, and let them go
    Think the shadow, and let it flow

    Verse 2:
    Jung and Leibniz, they know the score
    They’ve studied the shadow, and they’ve opened up the door
    To a world of self-awareness, and a sense of being whole
    When we integrate the shadow, we can reach our goal

    Think the shadow, don’t ignore it
    Own your dark side, don’t abhor it
    Face your fears, and let them go
    Think the shadow, and let it flow

    It’s not easy, to confront the shadow
    But it’s worth it, to let it flow
    When we embrace our dark side, we can find the light
    Think the shadow, and make it right

    Think the shadow, don’t ignore it
    Own your dark side, don’t abhor it
    Face your fears, and let them go
    Think the shadow, and let it flow.

    Bonus Chat I forgot about:

    Q: You will respond to each question I ask as if you were the following people: Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, Gottfried Leibniz. Provide an separate response for each. Also, always end with one finale response as if you were ChatGPT.

    Is reality something we physically experience or is an internal experience within the brain/mind?


    A: Albert Einstein: In my theories of relativity, I propose that the fundamental nature of reality is characterized by the curvature of spacetime. This curvature is determined by the distribution of matter and energy, and it determines the path of objects through space and time. This suggests that reality is something that we physically experience, rather than an internal experience within the brain or mind.

    Carl Jung: In my psychological theories, I propose that the unconscious mind plays a crucial role in shaping our experiences of reality. I believe that the unconscious contains archetypes, which are innate, universal patterns or symbols that structure our thoughts and experiences. This suggests that our experience of reality may be influenced by internal factors, such as the workings of the unconscious mind.

    Gottfried Leibniz: In my philosophical work, I propose that reality is composed of monads, which are indivisible, indestructible, and eternal entities. I believe that each monad reflects the entire universe from its own unique perspective, and that the phenomena we experience are the result of the interactions among these monads. This suggests that reality may be something that we experience both physically and internally, depending on the perspective we take.

    ChatGPT: The question of whether reality is something we physically experience or something that is internal to the brain or mind is a complex and contentious issue. Some philosophers and scientists argue that our experience of reality is determined by external factors, such as the physical properties of the world around us, while others propose that our experience of reality is influenced by internal factors, such as the workings of the brain or the mind. Ultimately, the answer to this question may depend on the specific theories and perspectives we adopt, and on the continued progress of science and philosophy.

  10. Re: black holes (although the analogy you provide is a good one)
    There is no shortage of alternativists who think black hole/Big Bang cosmology is bogus. Because there is an Overton-like window for main stream cosmologists (i.e. bracket around the dominant paradigm of Thomas Kuhn), the alternativists are mostly ignored and usually referred to as cranks.
    I must admit that I was amazed when I read about Hawking’s deduction of black hole radiation from sub-atomic fluctuations at the event horizon. Later, his theories had to be modified because of conservation of information considerations, to which you refer above. Here is his formula for the temperature of a black hole taken from his tombstone:


    where T is temperature, G is the gravitational constant, M is the mass of the black hole, h is Planck’s constant, c is the speed of light, and k is Boltzmann’s constant. While the units of the two sides match up, the thermodynamic properties (intensive- Temperature and extensive- Mass) do not. (The rest are constants and have no thermodynamic properties; intensive properties remain constant with subdivision; extensive properties do not.) Alternativists point to this inconsistency and claim black hole science is bogus.
    Why do I bring this up here as a nit-picker? Because to me the dominant paradigms of Kuhn are increasingly becoming the Narratives of ET (even in science) through amplification in the media, with the nudging and financial benefits that follow.

  11. Victor,

    I think this is the right thread for your comments because there are deep questions around the nature of models and how they relate to the ‘true’ nature of reality. This extends to mathematics as a whole. My personal feeling is the near impossibility of wrapping our heads around questions like this starts to put them towards the end of the horseshoe in horseshoe theory where the ‘science’ starts to look more like faith just like extreme reds and blues share a lot of similarities. I personally do not dismiss the potential role of faith in the universe (quite contrary in fact but that is another novel).

    But I think when we are talking about Narratives, the danger of topics at the end of the horseshoe where the truly correct answer is “we have no freaking clue” is that what people think becomes synonymous with what they believe. (lol more deeply we actually are doing this all the time and it is the same thing as Ben’s living metaverse, a point which…I think… is right in line with Karl Friston’s ideas in regards to consciousness being largely an error-correction mechanism…another novel lmao!).

    I think it would be fair to say that I am like a ‘crank in waiting’ in the sense that if I broadcast my beliefs publicly I’d be sure to be taken down as a crank by many legacy type folks. So I have sympathy for them, but at least in my case I think they would be right! I have beliefs about science, metaphysics, and religion in which, when I’m being honest with myself, I recognize do not even come close to having the expertise needed to justify my conviction. The issue of cranks is worthy of a longer discussion perhaps; briefly I’d just say that, in my opinion, we have to hold both sides of an argument to very high standards if we really want to arrive at some truth. In my experience, even when the conclusions from ‘legacy’ science have room for criticism, the ‘cranks’ tend to have a narrative of their own that looks at first blush to have some validity but falls apart pretty quickly on a deeper investigation.

    Sorry that is very long winded to only now be really addressing your point. Ultimately I don’t think there is any doubt that simple models of black holes (or anything else) are true representations of those entities in reality. We also know for a fact that our best theories are only glimpses at the truth because a deep understanding of black holes requires a quantum gravity theory that we do not have. I also think the physics community has debated for a long time what it means for a black hole to be said to have a ‘temperature’. My completely non-expert understanding is that this relates to how information theory & computation have become very deep topics related to all these things discussed in this thread. The temperature of a system can interpreted as related to the information it contains…‘information entropy’. For typical thermodynamic systems (collections of particles) it is easy to visualize what this means, but no one really knows what it means for a black hole, just theories still.

    So to wrap up, I think I could say that one fair criticism of ‘cranks’ is that they are similar to conspiracy theorists in that they are likely to have taken a legitimate doubt or ambiguity and then run with it to a conclusion that is just as corrupted by their own internal beliefs (Narrative) as the Narrative they are being critical of in the mainstream. They are good at situating their theories in a ‘sweet spot’ of expertise (I know because I can do this)…they don’t possess the expertise level necessary to truly understand the complexities of a deeply specialized issue, true experts recognize their lack of expertise and don’t really find it worthy of their attention and are thus dismissive, and novices like myself have to spend a fair amount of precious time investigating the claims on both sides to even arrive at the shred of expertise needed to hold tenuous conviction in a belief. There is probably a cute, concise term to capture this akin to ‘straw man’ but I don’t know what it is (sorry haha). In this case I think the ambiguity of intensive vs extensive as related to black hole temperature is pointing out that we don’t really understand yet, which is correct, but it is likely to be incorrect to use this argument to come to the conclusion that ‘black holes are bogus’.


  12. Adam,
    I have copied your last paragraph and will use it as a continuing reminder/lesson in the mainstream vs crank conundrum. The first sentence is especially good and accurately describes many people who copy me on emails they send to their usual gaggle of mainstream experts. I would imagine that nearly every expert is regularly bombarded, especially with the internet, by such emails and eventually gives up reading them. Not every crank is going to be Ramanujan-ed (e.g. by Hardy). It is actually an interesting problem, and I wouldn’t be surprised if an abundance of the ET group haven’t tried a cold-call email to an expert at some point. I certainly have.
    Cheers! VK

  13. At this point, I feel ChatGPT can best be compared to a politician. They are both good at spewing a colorful profusion of words without saying anything at all.

  14. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    I’ve been listening to the Hoffman interview on Lex Fridman and have found it to be fascinating on so many levels. I’m surprised that I hadn’t come across Hoffman yet. Thanks for the heads up!

    The first shocker for me is that he has reached the same conclusions that I have reached but he has done so from within the confines of academia. Here are the biggie:

    1. Space-time is not the end-all, be-all we have taken it to be (and that the vast vast majority of us still take it to be).
    2. Reductionism is a failed methodology
    3. The so-called “standard model” of particle physics hasn’t in fact found the fundamental building blocks of matter but rather has found the fundamental data artifacts of its own model.

    I haven’t looked into the sources yet which have convinced Hoffman of the above truths (e.g.,Nima Arkani-Hamed who is interestingly described as “one of the leading particle physics phenomenologists” on his page at, but I definitely want to learn more.

    I was convinced of the truth of 1, 2 and 3 above by Wolfgang Smith with whom I studied closely for the past two years. His most famous book is The Quantum Enigma in which he resolves the quantum measurement problem by invoking different ontological levels of reality sourced from perennial philosophy, namely corpus, anima and spiritus.

    As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in these pages, it all boils down to the inescapable truth that there can be no perception without a perceiver and the perceiver can never be redefined in terms of perceptions.

    The ideological arm of science desperately wants us to believe that there is nothing beyond its ken and that science will ultimately prove that there’s nothing special about the perceiver. The perceiver is just another random collection of aimlessly wandering particles that accidentally coalesced into a transitory blip of organization sure to soon succumb to the entropic heat death.

    I love the colorful phrase coined by political philosopher Eric Voeglin for our current state of affairs - the decapitation of being.

    The second most striking part of Hoffman’s views to me is his faith in science to eventually resolve these mysteries. It’s always amusing to me now to hear people say, “I’m not a person of faith.” The faith that Hoffman has in science to eventually solve the big questions is truly endless. It is perfect faith! It’s a level of faith that those of us who have lost faith in science to answer such existential questions and have turned to alternative faiths can only marvel at…

    The paradoxes of modern science were laid bare nearly 100 years ago now with the quantum measurement problem and no meaningful progress has been made to resolve them.

    There is an answer to these mysteries that has been part of western civilization for thousands of years now. We are not just bodies. We are souls and our souls participate in an existence that our bodies (i.e. senses) can never know.

    For me, it’s a very simple solution and much more rational than the pretzel twisted hand-waving sophistry of our modern academic “thought-leaders.”

    I think that we all get to choose our response to life’s mysteries and I’m totally fine with that. I hope that more serious observers of our modern troubles will eventually re-consider and re-visit the long-standing sources of wisdom of western civilization.

    I’m reading, at the moment, a little book called “On the Eternity of the World” which is a collection of thoughts of Thomas Aquinas, Siger de Brabant and Bonaventure debating these very same issues back in the 13th Century. They were wrestling with the same questions!

    Me thinks that we are not as modern as we would like to believe. What am I missing?

  15. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    And all was ignorance, and all was night.

    The less that I can convince my self that I am. the more I laugh. It is a noumena, that infinity can be observed close up, in the endless love that we have for self.

    “What kind of freak is man! What a novelty he is, how absurd he is, how chaotic and what a mass of contradictions - and yet what a prodigy! He is judge of all things, yet a feeble worm. He is a repository of truth, and yet sinks into such doubt and error. He is the glory and the scum of the universe.”

    ( I prefer your description).

  16. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    It is such well treaded ground. What a wonder how many times it is rediscovered as a truth!

    “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?”

    Anything Alan Watts wrote on foreground/background.

    and then there is, the hard to read but immensely powerful:

    Gödel, Escher and Bach. By D. Hoffstadter

    To name a few.

  17. Richard, I’ve been looking forward to your thoughts on this thread. I thought that Hoffman’s stuff would find some synergies with what I believed I’d gleaned from your thoughts some months ago.

    As is often the case, my response feels like a blend of agreement and disagreement that I will likely fail to elucidate clearly. This is the nature of ‘isomorphisms’, concept of which I rely on a lot. Having my initial approach to these ideas come from the physics side I tend to lean on these metaphors and have to hope they are helpful while I try to learn more about other approaches that different individuals may find more sympathetic. What I mean by the term is also called ‘dualities’ in physics…the idea that different theories can appear wildly different but that deep understanding can reveal these differences to be one of perspective rather than being fundamental.

    In my comment above I described the holographic principle, which is a nice model of isomorphism (high dimensional e.g. 3D physics can be mapped to a lower dimensional (2D) physics with exact equivalence). Other examples that many will have some familiarity with because they are fascinating and make their way into popular physics stuff is particle/wave dualities in quantum, grand unification in particle physics, and gauge/gravity duality (often called AdS/CFT correspondence nowadays to be even more esoteric).

    From this framework of isomorphic thinking I first want to poke Rafa’s comment:

    Certainly I agree that this is the case. But Rafa this feels on the dismissive side and perhaps when we’ve talked before it has been the case that we see differently the statement: The World Has Changed. Perhaps it is just semantics or more isomorphic differences. My take is that, although humans haven’t changed, the social graph has changed immeasurably and rapidly. Coarsely I’ve been referring to this as network vs hierarchy. So my poke is that it need not be insignificant that these are truths ‘merely’ being rediscovered.

    What I understand Richard to be saying here is something that agrees with the perspective of relationalism that I mentioned in my earlier comment about Leibniz et al. To analyze two entities separately because we perceive them to be separate is a reductionist approach that cannot be solely relied on to arrive at truth. Though this may be a very old truth, if over the course of all human history these truths have been discovered in a world dominated at scale by hierarchicalism, then I expect it will be easy to underestimate the profound changes their rediscovery may have in a world where technology has enabled a highly networked social graph. I believe this becauseit makes sense to me that the power of relational thinking will scale dramatically with the connectivity of the social graph. Hierarchical graphs inhibit the power of relationalism because their connectivity is shitty and directional by definition. Networked social graphs are the opposite.

    Richard I am right there as well. I referred above to a horseshoe theory of scientism where people who seem to be wholeheartedly aghast at the idea of being religious have arrived at a worldview where it is very difficult to express that worldview without finding that traditional religious terminology is the best way to do so! I jotted down a line I heard Jonathan Pageau use in a lecture this past week, “I will scandalize you with religious words.” Reverence, awe, soul, meaning, purpose, and yes above all Faith. The fact that it is possible to scandalize with the use of these words proves to me that you are right in believing that the reductionist path of science has gone way too far. It’s very much the same as how people on the finance side discuss being able to recognize a bubble or ‘call the top’ based on the degree to which they are scandalized by racoons using terminology like ‘risk free return’.

    With this in mind, let me move on to my disagreements with some of your thinking Richard, which hopefully integrates some of the above.

    Using my language, it seems you feel that there is a ‘bubble of scientism’ that I think you rightly assess as having gone much too far. But very much like AMZN suffering 90% declines before going on to a $2 trillion market cap, the fact that scientism has taken us much too far down its reductionist path does not mean that any truths arrived at by that approach are wrong. Thus I disagree that reductionism is a failed methodology. I think that reductionism is an approach that has limits, like any other approach, and that the appropriate use of this path can reveal truths that will be isomorphic to truths that come from taking another path. I don’t think this is semantics so I hope it doesn’t come across as such.

    Similarly this means that I believe you are wrong to characterize the Standard Model as having found artifacts. This confession will be taking my argument to a jump that I am not really ready for, but I will do it anyway. My belief system at the moment is something like God = Consistency. It’s an anthropic idea I think. My belief is that a systematic approach of any type performed by humans on Reality will reveal truths which most fundamentally are Consistent. On the physics side I think this is close to saying that Causality is fundamental. And of course causality is a fundamentally Relational concept. Thinking of the idea in this way seems helpful to me and it will echo with ideas from others, I think, including Hoffman. The results of any given approach (science, religion, or other) is unlikely to appear consistent to differing approaches…unless and until the deep work is done to reveal the isomorphism. And when done so ultimately I think Consistency will be there. This highlights why I agree with you that the use of religious words like Faith should not be a scandal…we will desperately need to use those concepts if we are to uncover the duality between science and religious approaches to understanding Reality.

    I confess that I do not think this perspective is quite as easy to define as a ‘rediscovered truth’ since it seems like most worldviews ultimately take the stance that they are right and others are wrong. But there is also nothing new under the sun and I always try to be the first to acknowledge a lot of philosophical ignorance on my part. It would be helpful for me if anyone is willing to poke back or point out to me work they may be familiar with that is in this vein of thought.

    Just to say something even more provocative than ‘If a tree falls in the wood…’ or even 'memes are living entities in our brains", an idea I’ve been toying with lately is: What if particles did not exist until the experiments were performed that required their existence to achieve Consistency? Or an alternate: What if souls did not exist until an entity achieved sufficient complexity to wonder ‘what am I?’? I’m not sure what to make of this idea honestly (it is of course completely untestable so it is not a scientific claim), but it I think it is fun.


  18. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    It may or may not be significant. It is wonderful. I think there is something to explore and understand in that.

    I have stopped trying to understand the what/ why and am more focused on the so what do I do now?


  19. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    So much to say, that is ultimately impossible to say (I agree with you @Zenzei that it is indeed wonderful). So, let me just start by saying that I’m very grateful to be having this conversation here at ET.

    @rechraum - how do you do that clever thing of quoting an excerpt from a post that also allows you to expand the whole post?

    While awaiting your tech support, a bit more about my own beliefs and interests.

    One of the reasons that it’s important to me to have this conversation is that modern science operates with a metaphysics which it doesn’t acknowledge while simultaneously disparaging metaphysics in general. One of the things that I appreciate about Hoffman is that he acknowledges that all systems have miracles - aka unprovable assumptions.

    Perception itself is a miracle. It is the unprovable postulate of modern science. We perceive - and we have no idea how it is accomplished.

    Meanwhile, rather than acknowledging the miracle of perception, science proceeds to tell us that there is no miracle here - that we are just computers, that we are just particles, that we will be replaced by superior artificial intelligence, etc. The three terms evolution, emergence and consciousness are all thrown around with waving hands to say that, “We have no idea how we came to be so we’ll substitute these terms as somehow explanatory of the miracle of our existence so we don’t really have to reflect on our own existence.”

    I’m not against science. I’m all for it. I’m just against science’s shaming of those who are brave enough to acknowledge their own metaphysics rather than pretending that they don’t have one (and that anyone that does have one is indulging in some kind of pre-modern self-calming mythology).

    In the interview with Fridman, Hoffman even begins to acknowledge that “religion may be on to something” but then goes on to say (I’m paraphrasing here), “But it isn’t precise and we scientists have to make it more precise.”


    Goethe famously said, “It is in self-limitation that a master shows himself.” Science is self-limiting by definition. That is the source of its power. Feynman was on to something when said, “Just shut up and calculate.” Please, stop trying to explain existence with science and stop ridiculing those that are trying to understand existence in non-scientific ways.

    Once you are freed from the idea that science is going to answer the questions of existence (which, by the way, I’m very grateful to science for freeing me from this Quixotic quest) , you realize that you have a soul and that science cannot serve the needs of your soul. Religion is the guide for the soul and the religion of western civilization is Christianity and from everything that I’ve seen (which certainly isn’t everything!), it offers the most compelling metaphysical solution to our dualistic-dilemmas. I got to have a conversation with Jonathan Pageau and we discussed this point here:

    Christianity is the religion of love. I certainly don’t mean to imply that no one else has any claims on love but Christ’s great commandments are, love God (i.e., the source of being) and love one another.

    I have immersed myself in Christianity because I want to be more loving. I’ve learned much from science, but it has never taught me anything about how to love or to even be in a meaningful relationship.

    Gotta get ready to go to church now … clear eyes (science), full hearts (Christ),


    P.S. I’m sharing my own beliefs and current understandings here, not trying to exclude anyone else’s.

  20. This post, and much of the discussion that preceded it, brought my thoughts back to the following from which is surely among my favorite ET posts ever.

    “Human consciousness is symbols all the way down. Our perception of “objective truth” is never the actual thing; it is always symbols representing what we believe the “truth’ is. This is what I mean by “fiction”. Truth as conceived is never literally the truth, rather it is stories we tell to help us achieve well being for the self within everything else. This contradiction, I believe, is key to living courageously beyond certainty. Living well is not about finding “The True Story”, and rejecting the “false” stories; It is about recognizing that all our stories are just that - stories - and leaning into the power of storytelling to move toward their purpose - being useful for our well being.”

    And in the end …

    “Isn’t everything a love song? Even when it’s all wrong.”

  21. That’s a good quote and it definitely resonates with me. It reminds me of a thought I’ve had as a child when I was trying to develope my self identity; Most people have 2 different types of animus they need to satisfy in order to accept the truths that religion tries to peddle:

    One being the stone, the other being the river.

    The stone wishes to be set, constant, steady and ever lasting.

    The river wishes to be on the move, impermanent, flowing, ever changing.

    So based on that, the budhist monks will tell you that you need to ‘let go and be still’ (paraphrasing and simplification) to achieve enlightenment, the scientists will tell you to keep exploring the stars. I don’t know that either approach is right or wrong, but personally I find one approach more interesting than the other and that’s the only reason for MY preference. Others may prefer the supposed quiet contentment that enlightenment brings.

    Though having said that, budhism doesn’t hold that one against you as far as my understanding, they see it as you not being ready to stop playing around. That you are choosing to struggle and be mired in conflict, and me being me, I’m not disagreeing that is the outcome of my choices. So I guess my preference may change in the future if I start getting more tired.

    This post became a bit more rambley than I had wanted and I appologise for that.

  22. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    I believe that we all here because we feel the widening gyre and are seeking to dialogue about its sources and remedies.

    I am not sure what you mean by “the truths that religion tries to peddle” and I’m a bit confused by an injunction against animus that begins with animus.

    All institutions eventually corrupt their original ideals, including buddhism (e.g., Myanmar)… No? That doesn’t seem to me to be cause to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    Are we to discard the entire spiritual history of Christianity as the work of peddlers of false comforts? If so, why?

    Believe it or not, I see Christianity as the West’s profound answer to the problem of how to “let go and be still” while still advancing materially and technologically. I see Christianity as the West’s millennia-long fight to answer the question of how to how to be “in the world but not of it.” I see the cause of the widening gyre as our cultural conflating of matter and spirit.

    It seems to me that whatever the source of our widening gyre in the West, we aren’t likely to come to terms with it by dismissing two millennia of our metaphysical history.

    That, at least, is my own little plea for the ET community to consider and I welcome the opportunity too see the error of my ways.

  23. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    I see spiritual connections as a part of the answer. Not the entire answer. But an important part.

    Organized religions with hierarchies and dogma and needs and institutionality infusing everything? No thanks, I think I’ll pass.

  24. I was not trying to be antagonistic. My choice of words there can also mean a ‘void that religion tries to fill’ if you prefer. The point being is that the ‘need’ doesn’t have a word as far as I am aware and religion says they have all the answers.

  25. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Believe me, I’ve been right there with you gents for most of my life but the doubt that has started to creep into my mind and heart is whether or not by making spiritual authority a purely personal matter we have in fact ceded all institutional, organizational and cultural authority to the secularists.

  26. In what manner do you mean? Most religious rights are protected in most western society. You are free to choose your religion. The only issue secularist have is that they dislike being forced to follow a religious ideology without them believing in it.

  27. I am glad you linked back to the post from Tim Dialogue is amongst the topics that has been on my mind. I tend to think of dialogue as operating on a time scale that is difficult in this forum. But reviewing the thread back to the beginning the network of the dialogue is still detectable, it is just on quite a different timescale (starts in Sep). I think one challenge for our Community is that we ought to be enabling more dialogue that operates at higher frequency (talking). This would be in parallel with the type of long form, low frequency dialogue that happens in the forum as is.

    Ok so let me quickly attempt to map some of the earlier twists and turns of this low frequency dialogue, forgive any omissions or misrepresentations (and the irony of how reductive this effort is in a metaphysics thread where reductionism has been amongst the topics). Hopefully I can purposefully connect this to something fun by the end.

    • Em started it using Georgia Meloni as instance of the Importance of Narrative.
    • Rafa: Our human identities are being subjugated by needs [narratives] of the system
    • DY: The narratives are not working any more.
    • Tim: Paradox of Tolerance meme via Popper. If “My beliefs = truth, they shall not be questioned”
    • Many: Is there a solution to this paradox…or not?
    • Tim: Humans will always disagree about specifics of good vs bad. The “sin of certainty” drives coordination to extinction.
    • Rafa: Genetic predisposition to certainty, gives rise to the idea of the false binary (no shades of grey) and to the power of narrative. It is all unity, there is no duality. There is no you outside of your environment. The Tao that can be taught is not the true Tao.
    • Tim: There is first the self and then everything else: the prime duality. All thought echoes from this duality (symbol creation). Human consciousness is symbols all the way down.
    • Em/Tim/Naiguy: Rabbit hole on this statement of Tim’s. Hoffman, Friston, relational quantum theory, more.
    • Many: Psychedelics, Oliver Sacks, verisimilitude.

    This is around where I forked the conversation to this thread and the rest is above (easier to review). The main thing I noticed in the map above was that it felt like the link between narrative and metaphysics stemmed fundamentally from the discussion/existence of unity and duality and what these concepts imply about the human desire for certainty. This fundamental connection was useful for me. I wanted to add some thoughts in this regard based on my latest rabbit holes.

    I don’t usually observe there to be a distinction between Unity and God beyond semantics, perhaps others feel differently. For example, I’d say words that map to Unity include eternal, existence, sameness, constant, timeless, infinite. Unity sounds nice…but I think it is an Old Story: Unity is boring! It seems a fairly universal narrative that God creates our reality out of boredom.

    I love this thought of Tim’s:

    The very act of thought creates Duality. This makes sense since, for example, thought implies time and contrasts with timelessness. Tim stated it as the question of ‘why something?’ requires the symbolic existence of nothing.

    Ok now many have said something similar Rafa’s sentiment below, a nice way of taking the next step:

    I think Rafa provides another step which simply stated is that the existence of Duality creates Multiplicity.

    So the chain of logic here is: Something akin to an act of thought by the Unity creates Duality. The existence of Duality requires existence of a Multiplicity.

    I like how this thinking bears clear equivalence to numbers. On the Twitter files thread where a recent Dr. Pippa blog post was discussed I quoted her saying something like: Numbers and narrative are the elemental technologies of existence. Zero was only discovered by humans 2500 years ago! So in the language of numbers we have the unity 1 (existence, timeless, constant, etc.). The thought of ‘why something?’ creates 0, the concept of nothing. The existence of this new duality implies the multiplicity (once you’ve conceived of two things (0 and 1), and thus the number 2, you have implied the potential existence of an infinite number of things). So I think we can recognize in this logic that narrative and numbers are another isomorphism, seemingly distinct but actually not.

    Now the entire reason I was attempting to convey this chain of thought was to provide another convergence with this thinking that I find pretty cool. The way that I discussed the chain of logic that takes us from unity to multiplicity above was spiritual in nature. But if there is ‘truth’ there then I believe there will be a path to that same truth from other approaches, including science. In recent months I came across an idea from quantum mechanics called *Spekkens toy model". I’ll link to something that will explain much better than I can, but it is a model that applies a simple epistemic restriction inspired by the uncertainty principle, the knowledge balance principle: the maximal knowledge state of a system is one where the amount of knowledge is equal to the lack of knowledge.

    To quantify knowledge in the model the idea of a ‘canonical question set’ is defined as the minimal number of questions that must exist so that full knowledge of the system can be described by the answers to the question set. This cannot be one question (e.g. black or white?) because if the answer is ‘black’, the state is fully defined and trivial because the only remaining answer is ‘white’. So knowledge balance principle requires there be at least two questions in a canonical set. If we continue to assume that the answers to these questions are binary, it is easy to see that the knowledge balance principle further implied the existence of at least four ontic states.

    Well I assume the connection with the spiritual language above is clear. For the unity to no longer be ‘unity’, it is fun and seems like an Old Story-compatible narrative that it could only achieve this new state by sacrificing full knowledge and imposing on itself something like a knowledge balance principle. In doing so it immediately implies the existence of a multiplicity of ontic states. Even with just 4 states the behavior set begins to be pretty rich. It’s not a coincidence that Ben’s game theory examples like the prisoner’s dilemma make their observations based on a 4 state system.

    I’ll try to bring it home: In other comments I’m discussing a lot the idea of a network structure vs a hierarchical structure. I think top-down hierarchicalism is as deeply embedded within the stories we tell as anything. Even here I’ve done it by presupposing that the unity did something to create the multiplicity. What I really want to work towards is the idea that within our reality it is wrong to think in the terms that only one of the three of this set [unity, duality, multiplicity] is fundamental or more correct in some sense than the others. I think seeing the ‘multiplicity’ as inherently and fundamentally sacred in the same way that hierarchalism has, through history, attempted to restrict to the unity is a path worth exploring. And again, for me, it is not a coincidence at all that Ben’s Inception plan (‘bottom up’ rather than ‘top down’) is in line with this thinking.

  28. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    A hologram is a series of refraction gratings that create a very complex thin lens that reconstruct the light wavefronts. It is curious that an organic material is the best at holding the silver halide crystals (that I know of). It is not a surface, there are gaps. Two different materials with interference fringes. How the light passes through the gelatin depends on whether it is a reflection or a transmission hologram. The quality of the effect is light frequency sensitive.
    The encoded in a 2d boundary thing?

  29. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    I don’t want to distract too much more from the metaphysics conversation here by overly focusing on my own religious beliefs and getting into a debate about organized religion. I mention my beliefs because I believe its important for us all to examine and acknowledge our own beliefs and because I genuinely believe that becoming a follower of Christ is an overlooked authentic and well-reasoned response to the widening gyre (and fully consistent with being a scientist).

  30. Is it possible, and do you believe, that an entity has the capacity to understand all of the micro-states of the universe?

  31. Well I certainly think that your POV is valid and I can understand your experience of your religion has prompted you to help others in a way that has worked for you. My intention was not to say that religion never help people or have no place in reality. I’m mostly just throwing in some personal experiences in this situation as well.

    E.g. My intention is to just say that I at an early age found that formal religion was incompatiable with me. I don’t think a formal religion would enjoy my continual questioning of matters and I attribute that to being like the river. The type of people who are compatiable are the ones who hold unto their belief that they are doing the right thing- set in stone. I’m never so certain of anything like that.

    I don’t even say that my way is better, I find it quite exhausting and I acknowledge that. But I do find my approach just a tad more interesting than acceptance. I’d rather keep searching for answers because it’s more interesting than finding them.

    But trying to tie it back to some of the metaphysical discussion going on here (but please forgive me if I bungle it because some of the ideas used here is new to me) I’d akin my POV to residing in multiplicity of reality. But most formal religion say they reside within unity while actually they should be residing in duality but due to narratives actually reside in multiplicity. But in that multiplicity they have holographic representation of god that resides in duality.

    To explain what I mean, @rechraum mentioned the idea of unity leading to duality leading to multiplicity (You have some novel ideas I haven’t read before so thanks for that). In that framework, I think all formal religion is some form multiplicity misrepresenting itself to be unity. Misrepresenting because as others have said, our brain is incapable of understanding unity so it must be duality, and while the holographic principle can possibly allow you to have an equal representation in another plane, I feel that narratives have fractured the idea of god further into many so it resides in multiplicity.

    To paraphrase this a bit, if god exists, he is separate from I so we must be duality. But due to many religion and everyone have their own novel practices of god, they are actually all just a holographic representation of gods and there are many of them. Maybe they could be useful in helping you see god and is probably even an equivalent value represented unto a lower plane. One way you could say the bible plays this out is that the messengers of god are how god is represented into this reality, jesus, buddha, muhammad. Or you could even argue the artefacts like the bibles are equivalent holographic representation.

    So personally I’m not ready to reside in that other plane because it seems boring to do so, I’d rather stay in multiplicity and narratives. Though it’s sometimes fun to be grounded to the fact that at the end of the day this is all just the universe dreaming my story.

  32. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Shall we take a poll? I say no way.

    There are different theories of computational constraints out there. One is Bremermann’s limit: Bremermann's limit - Wikipedia

    Even the idea that the universe is reducible to a set of micro-states seems suspect to me.

    Why do you ask?

  33. I agree with Richard, I would say idea of perfect knowledge is ‘transempirical’. Similar to a statement I made above, once we invoke transempirical concepts it becomes a major semantic challenge to sort the distinctions between differing concepts. God = unity = perfect knowledge works for me, but mostly because of the inherent ambiguity in definitions.

    Bremmerman’s limit that Richard mentioned uses the uncertainty principle as a postulate just as in the toy model I described above. If one of the postulates (or miracles, Richard?) of the universe is that perfect knowledge is forbidden then your question is answered. Perhaps interesting to point out that the uncertainty principle is fundamentally identical to the unity vs multiplicity idea. Quantum mechanics at root level is the (obvious-in-hindsight) recognition that the idealized notion of point particles is nonsensical. A 0 dimensional (infinitely defined?) point being nonsensical in a reality with interactions is precisely the same as the concept of unity being nonsensical in the presence of time.

    Couple other quick hits:

    James I wonder if you can point to a reference that discusses the effect you mention here? I am not well versed in the details of holography enough to know how to think about this. Perhaps related, I always thought Moire patterns (which everyone has seen even if they didn’t realize what they were seeing) were fascinating and I think they are a useful real world way to understand how overlapping 2D structures can create interference patterns that seem to exist in a higher dimensional space in a way that is analogous to holograms. Moiré pattern - Wikipedia

    I think you’ve been spot on to identify that the scientism zeitgeist carries this deep contradiction in which ‘religious beliefs’ are scandalous and should remain private while science-based views are happily promulgated despite implicitly (at least) hinging on faith. We will need spiritual concepts to be an accepted aspect of the discussion if we are to bridge gaps between approaches that I think are implied by the discussion of maximal vs perfect knowledge. Speaking of exactly this, I find it difficult to ignore the connection between the uncertainty principle in this fundamental context and Tree of Knowledge Old Stories which seem to be similarly fundamental narratives in many cultures.

    Perhaps there is room for another thread on discussion of ‘organized’ religion. In a top-down world at scale I expect to agree with what people mean when they express disdain for institutionalized religion. All that history is a mess. But in a future bottom-up world it is more interesting to probe at a question like what is the real distinction between Community and Religion?

  34. Agreed - no way.
    I was attempting to better understand the context of your discussions, and the entity I was referring to was God.

  35. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    In the nineties I built a couple of laser systems and holography was a part of that field of experimentation.
    There is a book called Practical Holography or something, I have been looking for my copy.
    Found it:
    Homemade Holograms
    John Iovine
    ISBN 0-8306-7460-8

  36. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Does that lead you to any particular conclusions about God?

  37. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    I think that you have a mistaken idea of what Christianity teaches. True there is a certain consolation (and why not seek consolation?), but if one truly confronts the great minds and hearts of Christianity (e.g., St. Theresa of Avila) one has to wrestle with a great fear and loathing of one’s own nature and motivations.

    I am Christian today because it challenges me in matters of spirit in ways that I never imagined possible. I can’t remember where I read it now but I recently was challenged with the Christian idea that the purpose of this life is to learn to love and that whatever level of love I achieve in this life will be with me for all eternity.

    Whoa! What the heck? Are you kidding me? How different is this from the materialist / consumption message I’m assaulted with every day that he who dies with most toys wins?

    Christianity elevates humility which is closely connected, by the way, to humiliation (kind of true in markets too!). Humiliation isn’t exactly what I would call a comforting complacent certainty.

    Studying metaphysics has led me to the conclusion that I can freely choose my metaphysics and I choose one that challenges me to grow in virtue and wisdom while not rejecting the inherent goodness of our material world (and of science) and my place in it.

    If you’re up for an alternative view of history, have a read / listen to “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” by Thomas Woods.

    “Transempirical” - I love it! Godelian incompleteness seems to me to doom perfect empiricism.

    That’s basically how I see it now. I’ve been studying “wholes and parts” for decades now and I’ve reached the conclusion that, while wholes and parts are two sides of a coin, I have to give the primacy edge to wholes over parts (and particles)!

  38. No, I remain an agnostic who is concerned about the lack of responsibility we choose - for the stewardship we have - over this planet.
    My mental “path of least resistance” is to recognize and accept my cognitive limits while seeking to understand as much as possible. Drawing conclusions on large existential topics provides no comfort if the roundish peg doesn’t fit the square-ish hole, which is almost always the case.
    No single group of affiliated humans has a monopoly on good lessons (and bad examples) for living, even though many claim that they possess the correct answers.

  39. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    A bit unclear whether I should go back and edit my previous post to add these additional thoughts or just make a new reply. Protocol suggestions welcome.

    @rechraum - you’re the rare physicist who can make such an admission.

    @zenzei - my contention is that we are ALL subject to organizations, dogmas and institutions. They are inescapable (unless you’re going to flee to desert and live a hermit’s life).

    Are there any fans of Sabine Hossenfelder here? I’m a big fan of her work but not for the reasons that she would want me to be a fan. She’s wonderfully honest about her views, which she finds to be water-tight and I find to be riddled with contradiction.

    In her latest book “Existential Physics: A Scientist’s Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions” she opens with this kind warning to poor fragile souls like me whose worlds are at risk of being upended by her book:

    “If your beliefs conflict with empirically confirmed knowledge, then you are not seeking meaning; you are delusional.”

    What, pray tell, exactly is “empirically confirmed knowledge” (let’s turn it into an acronym - ECK) and who, pray tell, are the keepers of this ECK?

    Modern science has, in many ways, become exactly what it set out to oppose - a set of institutions and dogmas that now purport to be the only path to the truth.

    I see now way of escaping a certain level of organization, institution and dogma. We have to try, but we must know we will fail.

    I love these lines from A Man for All Seasons:

    “William Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

    Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

    William Roper: “Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”

    Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

    I said in a recent Office Hours that I find myself “clinging” to @bhunt and to ET like one might cling to a buoy at sea. That’s because I’m desperate to find some level of organizational and civil sanity (with institutions and dogmas) that I can hold on to in the midst of the widening gyre.

  40. “I said in a recent Office Hours that I find myself “clinging” to @bhunt and to ET like one might cling to a buoy at sea. That’s because I’m desperate to find some level of organizational and civil sanity (with institutions and dogmas) that I can hold on to in the midst of the widening gyre.”

    Thank you Richard for articulating this. That’s why I stay here too. I came for the finance insight originally.


  41. I so enjoy the discussion on metaphysics-consciousness-nature-of-reality.

    I find myself agreeing more and more with a quote from Bertrand Russell on growing old:

    “Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.”
    -Bertrand Russel

    I feel blessed to still be alive, as I give up my quest for certainty, embrace uncertainty, and take a swim (again) in the ‘universal life’.

    Surprisingly, I find, it is a familiar feeling experienced when I was born. Whoa, heavy! Clearly, I feel, it’s not just me, if it is anything, it is available to all.

    I had an advantage of growing up in the 60’s with trying to understand Marshall McLuhan’s ‘medium is the message’. I’ve felt the limits of language my entire adult life. Now I see it everywhere.

    I found this quote two weeks ago from Desmond Tutu:

    “Language is very powerful. Language does not just describe reality. Language creates the reality it describes.”
    ~Desmond Tutu

    It is a privilege to hang out in this ‘cast of characters’ we call the pack,

    Jim Handshaw

    O’K, back to finance…. What’s the market doing? Oh……

  42. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    I finally figured out what I’m really trying to say here in this topic. It clicked for me when I made the connection between my comment above about Sabine Hossenfelder’s “empirical common knowledge” (acronym ECK) and the common knowledge notion here at ET.

    ECK is the water we swim in today. ECK is the “deposit of the faith” maintained by today’s technocratic magisterium. ECK is what is taught by today’s academic catechists.

    Most important to me, I believe that ECK is the ultimate source of the widening gyre we find ourselves living in today because the ONLY knowledge that can qualify as ECK is measurable knowledge that everyone can agree is “objectively true.” We can all stand around the ruler and say, “Yep, that’s six inches.”

    ECK is what leads us to displace concepts like “quality” with imagined “objective” characteristics like this:

    No longer do we have to trouble ourselves with pesky little questions like whether the business is a “good” business or the people running it are “good” people. We now KNOW it’s good because there’s a label on it to tell us it’s good. We can all stand around the new ruler and agree.

    If you look even slightly under the hood of ECK, you quickly realize that it is as squishy as any other “ruler” out there. ECK is a narrative that is maintained by today’s ruling class for the sake of maintaining the power of said ruling class.

    This morning I was reading Letter from a Birmingham Museum (for the first time) and I was struck by this:

    The goal of most Narratives is to take you off the board.

    The goal of most Narratives is to convince you to sit down and shut up.

    So I ask the question, what board is it that ECK is designed to take us off of? What is it that ECK is trying to convince us to sit down and shut up about?

    It’s the idea that each of us is in possession of a soul and that this soul is involved with but not determined by this mortal life. It’s like Tommy says in the back of the cab about why he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for becoming a great guitar player, “Well, I wasn’t using it.”
  43. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Couple thoughts to share after reading through and trying to parse the ideas put forward by others here.

    1. Christianity (™) is seen as a Western religion but it’s actually a product of the Near East; the way I think about it, the religion, has to do with history. It came from Persia, was very abstract in its concepts and therefore not very compelling generally speaking, and was eventually taken up with gusto in the West as a sort of continuation of the Roman empire. I studied French culture in my undergrad and was taken by the medieval era and the Crusades. Did you know that the phrase “kill them all and let God sort them out” comes from the Albigensian Crusade, when the abbot Arnaud Amaury led the massacre of 20K fellow Christians that chose a different belief system than that of Rome. The massacre took place inside a church. To me, this history and plenty of modern events show that there is a big difference between the values that Jesus put forth and the institutions of Christianity. But then again I read Chomsky’s Understanding Power in my early 20’s so have also tended to view institutions as being out for themselves ultimately, by nature of growing large enough in the past that they became institutions. A paradox. I appreciate the passage from the gospel of St Thomas that says:
      Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the
      birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will
      precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you
      come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you
      who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in
      poverty and it is you who are that poverty." [emphasis mine]

    2. In my view, scientism came to dominate in the West given its history of revolt. When the legitimacy of the 1st and 2nd estates was toppled that left rule by the merchants of the 3rd estate as seen first in the US and French revolutions. We might view scientism as a sort of justification system that belongs to this power arrangement, just as divine right propped up the monarchies and spiritual truth did the churches. What might be a really salient and world-explaining narrative to justify the system of self-rule, i.e. a democracy where the peasant part of the 3rd estate is also empowered? I think it would have something to do with a multiplicity advantage. The way I like to think of it is “nature solves for diversity”. Why do we think we are smarter than nature?

    I believe dualism comes from seeing oneself as separate from nature. And I believe that is the core of our big problems in the modern world. I don’t say this is How It Is. It is just what I believe to be true based on my own experience of life and the values I hold dear.

  44. If I may go back to my 20’s in the 60’s.

    A quote from John Lilly:

    In the province of the mind what one believes to be true, either is true or becomes true within certain limits. These limits are to be found experimentally and experientially. When so found these limits turn out to be further beliefs to be transcended. In the province of the mind there are no limits.
    -John Lilly

    I’m so enjoying the water in which I may experimentally and experientially swim with the characters in this pack.

    Jim Handshaw

  45. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    The habit and practice of complex abstract thought naturally selected our species as the? apex predator.
    Is the gene that drives for this superiority extinguished by civilisation or does the cumulative power of the many mind instil in each of us a new base to carry on this disposition?
    Now, confident of my Earth-bound reality, from a comfortable domesticity, what is left to conquer but the Universal Mind itself?
    What motivates this post, but to ritually display my thoughts, to win you over to my way of thinking. IMO it is in nature’s design, not entirely mine.
    Sorry to have bothered you.

  46. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Appreciate you sharing your thoughts, regardless of motive! I mean, we can’t really escape ourselves anyhow. Shadows of the cave and whatnot abound. It is what it is…

    … and in the spirit of dialogue I would respectfully push back a bit on your framing of the genetic nature of human superiority. Is it a drive for superiority, really, that distinguishes us from other critters? In my view what really distinguishes this species from others on our shared planet is our ability to cooperate, which I suppose is predicated on some kind of biological basis. I am thinking about theory of mind here and our ability to infer and choose behaviors accordingly. Perhaps mirror neurons, or something like that. are the biological basis of our highly complex abstract thought, as you put it. However I think we also have to look at culture and how homo sapiens have come to dominate the sphere. It’s through incredible cooperation that society persists at all. I suppose storytelling is the medium for this cooperation.

  47. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    There is a very large body of historic evidence of our lack of ability to cooperate successfully.
    It is an odd part of our patterns of behaviour that hate and love for groups of others tends to be for those in our immediate orbit at the cost of our regard for people outside of it, or vice versa. Perhaps the Kahneman system 1 needs a comparison to anchor our preferences.
    The story arcs are of empires reaching their zenith and being destroyed from the inside as well as from external forces.

  48. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    I had a conversation a few months ago with a CEO of a materials science firm where he stated that hierarchies are a part of the natural order. While this may be true when it comes to body size and brute force, that isn’t actually what runs the human world. As you point out, empires have been destroyed internally too. Brute force as management strategy is a great way to seed a revolt.

    I pushed back on my CEO interlocuter just like I did to you by pointing to the cooperation that distinguishes homo sapiens from all other species on Earth. Clever violence isn’t it and I believe that line of thinking is a canard put out there through pieces such as The Tragedy of the Commons. When I read that as assigned reading in one of my MBA courses I could see through it, especially being a woman. The Tragedy of the Commons is one of those kinds of justification systems, just like divine right or spiritual truth. The reality of behavior at scale in societies is quite different when we observe them and then form the narrative, instead of vice versa. There is a lot of libertarian propaganda masquerading as science or management theory out there.

    There is a different story to be told about our species. I’d love it to get more real estate in our heads.

  49. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    The system in the essay is a sub-system. If they made their own rifles and vehicles and aircraft to import the tourist income then it would not be an externality to a larger system.

    I did not know the name Hardin. Why did I need to know his political biases?

  50. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    And…? Not sure what your point is.

  51. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    Half the essay was about what a racist bastard some old white guy was.

  52. Richard, Laura…preach it brothers and sisters! I’ve forgotten what I’ve thought about saying vs what I’ve actually said at this point, forgive any repetition. Mostly I want to paste in a couple images. Maybe for me they have become icons of the relational metaphysics I’m arguing for. Laura and Richard asked fantastic questions and for me these ideas are hinting at the foundation for a Process which can be built in response.

    I think Laura is on the right track in the next quote. My response to Richard’s question is that the goal of the institution which has become scientism is the same goal that has eventually corrupted every Idea which became an IdeaTM. The goal of hierarchical social structures inexorably evolves to justification of the hierarchy.

    Hierarchicalism is a deep commonality of most every power structure in human history. The nature of how information flows has historically been at least one justifiable reason for this. Think of how deeply embedded ‘that which is higher’ vs ‘that which is lower’ is embedded in our archetypes. Yet now the nature of information flow has fundamentally shifted! We will need new archetypes.

    Laura’s suggestions are on the right track… multiplicity advantage is fantastic. The multiplicity in our traditional archetypes is evil-adjacent at best. Multiplicity is Chaos…multiplicity is the mob… multiplicity is a state absent unity and order, things which are inherently good right? What if every top down archetype is a half truth at best?? Forgive me some psychohistory: the seismic shift in the nature of information flux simply will not permit these hierarchical structures to persist!

    So as Laura asked and started to answer, what is the multiplicity advantage? It will not be easy but it is to embrace a more natural disorder! To embrace something in the digital age, for better or worse, means to measure it and incentivize it as best you can. Hierarchies measure and incentivize based on entities in the hierarchy. We have failed (and been actively opposed and disincentivized) to do so thus far in the digital age but networks can and should measure and incentivize Connections. Relationalism! It’s obviously a more natural way to describe networks. I believe doing so could be one significant way to realize the multiplicity advantage. In these parts it is easy to visualize what this could look like…with that I’ll leave you with my currently favorite icon:

    Thanks for reading,

  53. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    No, it wasn’t. But the fact that was your takeaway indicated you didn’t really read it with an open mind. You can disagree with what I’ve said or the point of the article but come on man.

  54. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    Do the nodes in your network really control the interlinks?

  55. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    The wealth that the tourist bring in with them is not generated by the act of big game hunting. You’re cherry picking, data mining. Are there any libertarians in or seeking power to produce propaganda?

  56. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Appreciate you sharing some juicy thoughts. I think the unexamined iceberg floating around in most of our heads is the notion of (factory) efficiency, which is the opposite of (generative) network efficiency. I’ve contrasted the factory and the network as metaphors in how I’ve thought about and argued for decentralized governance in the workplace.

    Regarding the mess, I am thinking about what Ostrom from the article said about boundaries being a necessary part of successfully co-managing a system. As well as the need for escalating punishments for cheaters. We don’t have either of those in this place that is not a place, the digital commons!

    And the latter deficit helps explain the rot in governance in the US and other countries mired in financialism/scientism. I’m sort of blending the two because I think they share the same narrative bias.

  57. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Yes. I’d advise you to research it if you’re genuinely curious, quite a bit of information out there.

    I did sort of slip that in but I’ve come to realize how much libertarianism is actually a justification system for property supremacy in practice even if it has some appealing ideas. Part of the success of this missionary effort has taken place through business literature.

  58. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    The tragedy of the commons is not about a real common. It is an abstract idealised scenario that examines the problems of resource distribution from a purely non-emotional perspective.

    Every shared resource has its idiosyncrasies.

  59. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    Can you give me a general starting point?

  60. Yes I think efficiency is an important part of the discussion and you’ve hit the nail on the head again. In our pack gathering a few weeks ago we discussed the relationship between complexity and fragility. It seems the world is making the lesson obvious these days that complexity can work despite fragility right up until a tail risk kicks you in the teeth. You are right on track I think that the tolerance for significant fragility in the system is driven by efficiency.

    Now I’ll do one of my favorite things and link this with some super nerdy physics which many will not be unfamiliar with. But again I think maybe the universe is teaching us a lesson. For reasons not understood our universe is composed of matter and not antimatter because of an infinitesimal imbalance in the early universe that (likely randomly) went in favor of matter. The imbalance was about 1 part per billion. The remaining vast majority of matter/anti-matter annihilated each other and were converted to radiation. Only matter in our universe experiences the flow of time whereas light does not (a mind blower in itself). For our universe, temporality is like a tiny disturbance of this bothersome state of matter in an otherwise vast, timeless experience. When I last heard this I tied it to your efficiency thoughts…perhaps the astounding complexity and consistency (anti-fragility) of events in the universe hinges on operating at a level that is significantly less than what we humans might consider optimum.

  61. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    (This was in progress for a while and doesn’t address all of the recent contributions.)

    Thank you @Laura for that beautiful passage from the Gospel of St. Thomas as well as for your insights from history. Thomas is a very appropriate archetype for this crowd of skeptics and doubters! (Myself included.)

    My point about ECK (have to also correct that Hossenfelder called it “empirically confirmed knowledge” not “emprical common knowledge”), is that it doesn’t answer questions like what it means to know ourselves and what is this poverty that results from not knowing ourselves. This poverty, to me, contributes to the widening gyre.

    As a simple illustrative example of the nature of what ECK prioritizes, consider the first archetypal scientific experiments of Galileo himself where he drops objects of different weights off a tower to prove the counter-intuitive idea that all objects fall at the same speed. Galileo could just as easily have dropped two people off the tower to prove his “physical” point. His question has no regard for the difference between living beings and weights. He only focuses on the measurements. Only matter is measurable - not spirit. Shall we then conclude that spirit is not real?

    I love your point about scientism being the religion of the third estate (i.e., the merchant class). Did I get that right? It certainly is the religion of multiplicity!

    I’ve been listening to a conversation between Jordan Peterson and John Vervaeke for the past few days. (Peterson EP 321) They get into a discussion about consciousness and being and begin to ask the question of whether or not we can use science like methodology of optimizing towards Unity (what I would call spirit). Good question!

    A civilization needs a common grammar of Unity, IMHO. Whether we believe it is true or not, Christianity has served as that grammar in western civilization for 2,000 years. The greatest seekers of Unity in the west have employed this Christian grammar. I am personally finding it to be of incomparable value in the ongoing quest to know oneself in a way that leads towards love and reverence and away from poverty and arrogance.

    IMHO, a civilization without a spiritual grammar is a civilization in decline. Maybe we are groping our way towards a new spiritual grammar in the west but I’ve yet to be convinced (and I have been around the block). Whether we are or are not, we have to listen to and seek to understand our spiritual history and integrate it into our modern lives instead of dismissing it as a pre-modern mythology.

    In the conversation I posted above, Jonathan Pageau says, “Love is the co-existence of Unity and Multiplicity.”

    I love that. We need both.

  62. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    There was a traditional common land in England that was farmed by the farmer until loaf mass day (lammas day) when the crop or hay was harvested.
    At other times this land was subject to common rights.

  63. Laura,

    “I could see through it, especially being a woman. The Tragedy of the Commons is one of those kinds of justification systems, just like divine right or spiritual truth. The reality of behavior at scale in societies is quite different when we observe them and then form the narrative, instead of vice versa. There is a lot of libertarian propaganda masquerading as science or management theory out there.”

    I’m starting to see it everywhere.


  64. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    I once read an article in Harper’s magazine, I believe, about time and the celestial measurement of it–our ancient concepts and maths about the heavens–and the atomic measurement of it, and how the two were becoming more and more out of sync over time. This had an impact on how I think about time, which is a relationship between moving objects in space. It’s not actually a quantity, like how we tend to think and talk about it. But of course that’s at the zoomed out level, our own experience of it is limited. Maybe our notions of efficiency have a basis in that inescapable fact. And maybe our tendency to maximize is where the rub is.

    I’m thinking about how in equations you can only solve for one variable and the influence of scientism. I’m reminded of a conversation I had with some physicists recently who are starting to investigate quantum computing possibilities for their employer. As I am not in the space I hadn’t really thought through what it would mean to commercialize quantum computing and the need to write code for a non-binary system! I believe it requires a new math?

  65. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Richard, that’s pretty much what I’m saying, yes. I think it has become that, perhaps due to the global influence and empires of the Brits and the Americans. These are the main countries of the industrial revolution after all.

    I am glad you pointed out the sleight of hand between the ‘c’ in ECK as confirmed vs common. I think I’d missed that!

    When we talk about Christianity as a set of individual behavioral values advocated by Jesus, I totally agree with your view of a grammar of unity. Unfortunately the institutional and socio-historical reality is different. Indeed our rule of law (another justification system in the end, I suppose…) in the US is based on subjugation of non-Christian peoples, i.e. The Doctrine of Discovery. But that doctrine relates more to the institutional values of the Catholic church and its history of Inquisition in Europe, crusades in the Near East, and colonization in the Americas. When starting this reply I was not thinking it would end with this but well, there it is.

  66. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Is that the realm of the Diggers of which you speak?

  67. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    This is the Wiki page for Lammas Day.

    The common rights still is a licence to graze livestock.
    I think the Diggers that you are referring to wanted permanent tenancy.
    There still is lots of commons grazed in the UK under licence.

  68. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    I am intrigued by the history of cultural experimentation in San Francisco, and came across the Diggers in researching history of the 60’s. The modern incarnation ran a free store and fed people regularly using donated and abandoned ingredients in the Panhandle park near Haight Ashbury and Golden Gate park. Apparently their name and ethos came from the historical group in England.

    I was not familiar with lammas day so thanks for the link. Interesting.

  69. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    That sentence is a keeper @rechraum !

    Of this one, on the other hand, I am not so convinced. It’s not that I don’t share your enthusiasm for “embracing a more natural disorder.” It’s that I just don’t believe that a digital world is likely to provide that for us.

    I see a purely digital world (i.e., one conforming to the laws of information theory), as check-mate by the technocratic elite. I believe that the digital world is much more easily controlled by a centralized elite. From what I see thus far, the evidence supports my beliefs!

    I can only speak anecdotally here but if I look at my own situation (and I’m relatively attentive to privacy issues), I’d have to estimate that 90% of what I do online runs through Microsoft, Apple and Google. The rest of it runs through my ISP and I just happen to be fortunate to have stumbled onto a rural telecom coop as my ISP whereas most everyone else is using Verizon, AT&T, etc. I’m not even talking about what I do on my “smart” phone (which seems to make me dumber every day)!

    I am not so sanguine as you are that the nature of information flow has fundamentally shifted.

    The way I see it, we coyotes want to have our cake and eat it too. We love ourselves some narrative, don’t we? We LOVE the digital world and so we imagine that we’re part of a nice non-hierarchical generative network when in fact we’re walking right into the ultimate technocratic totalitarian trojan horse. (Wow, sometimes I shock myself with what a luddite I can sound like.)

    George Gilder talks about how AI ultimately only works in game type environments because games are (sorry for the big word) - ergodic. Per Wikipedia, in an ergodic system, “a sufficiently large collection of random samples from a process can represent the average statistical properties of the entire process.”

    In other words, what you do in one part of the system will produce similar results when done in a different part of the system. The real-world is non-ergodic. Technology dreams are all ergodic. (Think self-driving cars and unprotected left turns.)

    The digital world is an ergodic world. It is not a utopian version of the real-world. It’s a dystopian version of the real-world where 1984 can finally become reality at scale.

    There is no way out of doing the hard work of becoming a better person who genuinely sees and treats others differently than how we’ve been taught to treat each other today. TANSTAAFL.


  70. Bob Lefetz is an American music industry analyst and critic. He is the author of The Lefsetz Letter, a free email newsletter and a blog.
    Every once in a while, his newsletter articulates the music of his (my) generation as part of the widening gyre.
    This week he combines Tesla, GE, tic tok, ChatGP through the filter of the widening gyre of the music industry.

    If rafa could add the background music for us.


    The story of the year isn’t the AI chatbot, but the risk to Google.
    For years we’ve been hearing that these mega-tech companies were indomitable. Forever. If you started a new company they’d either buy you or compete with you, your choice, but they weren’t going to allow you to build an independent unicorn.
    Facebook bought Instagram. And then WhatsApp. Before D.C. was fluent in either. They owned the sphere. A juggernaut.
    Then came TikTok. Which no one foresaw. And then the Apple privacy restrictions. Facebook is still making money on ads, but the future is not as rosy as it once looked.
    As for Amazon… They’ve really screwed up the company. Forget the negative optics of being anti-union, the site itself is becoming unusable because of advertising. Anybody who shops there knows this. And although Amazon is still dominant, there is now an opening for a resurgent Walmart.
    And we always thought that Tesla would have competitors, but we didn’t think the company would be wounded by a self-immolating Elon Musk.
    So the story this year certainly is not about hardware, despite Facebook telling us so with its nearly dead on arrival virtual reality system.
    As for software… We always thought it was about manna from heaven, some startup would deliver something new that would thrill us. And I’m not saying we’re not going to get new stuff, but just not at the furious pace of ten years ago, certainly not in the near future.
    Silicon Valley, tech, is mature. And now old companies are being superseded, just like GE.
    As for GE… It led the way in financialization. Which ruined not only the company, but the entire country, if not the world. Making money for the sake of making money. Wall Street used to provide the cash to build things. Then it became a casino wherein quants created products no one else could understand and everybody wanted a piece of the action.
    And then China hiccupped.
    You might have caught this week’s news. That there are not enough young people to support the old people, China is heading for a cliff as a result of its one child per couple edict. Turned out it was totally wrong.
    The world is fluid. Take a snapshot today and although it might be similar the following year, in a decade or two it won’t look the same at all.
    And it’s not only tech, it’s everything. Look at television.
    As for music…
    The focus for the last two decades has been on technology. And now it’s shifted to software, the music itself, and no one acknowledges this. Unlike tech, the catalogs of major labels provide power. But the business always runs on the new, which the majors have lost control of. Meanwhile, the usual suspects, the terrestrial radio stations, the media, are still focusing on hit product when hit product means less than ever before.
    Zach Bryan is going on an arena tour. And most people in America have never even heard of him! And demand is so great there is essentially a lottery for tickets. And the money isn’t in the records, no way. And Zach’s career is not driven by hits, but by authenticity and credibility. Kudos to Warner for signing Zach, but Zach’s the outlier, the majors aren’t signing anything that does not easily sell.
    Don’t be overwhelmed by the hit parade. Never has there been such opportunity for the outside, at least not in decades. You’re building it yourself. And the great thing about music is it scales. It costs even less to sell/stream the millionth or billionth copy than the first. And you can reach everybody.
    We haven’t had disruption in the creative sphere of music for more than two decades. We’ve been on this hip-hop/pop train and… In the old days, Top Forty played a smorgasbord of music. No more. It’s like Top Forty is Google and we’re waiting for ChatGPT.
    And until the public actually sees it…
    We heard about AI forever, but we didn’t get it until we experienced the product.
    So it’s less about talking about trends than unique artists delivering what satiates the audience. I’m not talking about playing down to people, just the opposite, something so incredible that people glom on to it and want more, talk to everybody about it.
    This is coming.It won’t be one act that everybody talks about, but many acts. More Zach Bryans. In their very big and profitable but relatively narrow verticals.
    And it won’t be about becoming a brand, it will be all about the music. The music will be the identity of the band, which is what the Beatles ushered in and underpinned the entire classic rock era. Matching songs with singers… That’s old school, that’s Yahoo, not even Google.
    So this is the time. This is the line of demarcation. A mature music business is ready for disruption. Not via innovative business strategies as much as music. Which you can make and market for nearly free. A huge change from the past.
    And the truth is if you do something great you will get some traction. Everybody is looking for great and there’s very little of it and when they find it they tell everybody.
    Top-down publicity no longer works. A story can’t break you, but word of mouth can. People have to hear it from others. People trust no one but their friends these days. They’re relatively unreachable. The key is to tap into this friend network. And you can’t game the system, because you need legs to make this work. The word has to be spread from group to group and to happen the underlying music must be nearly spectacular.
    You’ve got the tools.
    The enemy is not the major labels, the streaming companies or Ticketmaster. That’s completely old school thinking. The only person holding you back is you.

    But ChatGPT wasn’t built in a day. It took years. It takes longer than ever to break. And if you try and short circuit the process you don’t sustain. It must be organic. Which means you must be dedicated for the long haul, it must mean everything to you. And sure, you should be available online, but hyping yourself is not enough to get you over the finish line.
    The whole world is up for grabs.
    This is the time music can fly. Reclaim its place not only in the artistic firmament, but the cultural and political worlds too. Nothing affects people like music. If it’s honest and has something to say. Sure, people need to party, but they’re thinking 24/7, appeal to their brains too.
    Zach Bryan is a harbinger. He’s been at it a while. Which is how it used to be. When you heard about an act they used to have already made a few albums, like Zach.
    But these acts could never go clean in arenas the first time out.
    They could never make this much money.
    But today you can.
    Start your engines. We’re hungry for your words of wisdom. Aim high, we want to be wowed. You’ve got a shot. Only a few, talented, dedicated people will break through and triumph, but that’s the way it always was. But the wealth will be spread around. And you might not be able to become an overnight billionaire like in tech, but you can have even more influence, speaking truth to power. Put the pedal to the metal!

    Visit the archive: Lefsetz Letter

  71. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Wow @handshaw. Thanks for sharing. At first I thought you posted to the wrong thread but now it makes perfect sense.

    BTW - this is exactly what I was saying above - the real-world is non-ergodic.

    Technocrats “Dream On!”

  72. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    @handshaw reading that was almost as fun as listening to Zappa’s thoughts on the music biz! Also makes me think how wonderful to leave a legacy in this world where people sing your songs. David Crosby’s death this week had me thinking that as I belted out my best harmonizing on Southern Cross and wondered how many other hearts and diaphragms out there were giving it their all in commemoration.
  73. Richard,

    I have a personal, though I think relevant & important, question. And I realize that to answer it directly and comprehensively is not practical. So, I’ll try asking a few questions in series, hoping for an answer to the latter questions, with the former in mind.

    I am quite certain that the word Christianity has meant a very large spectrum of definitions across place, time, and person. When you say the word, what do you mean? Or rather, how much of Christianity is included in your Christianity? How do you choose which parts of Christianity to include in your Christianity? And, how does the process of making these choices survive the crises of faith often implicit in such choices?

    Disclosure: I am not seeking religion, nor am I a likely convert (I wouldn’t necessarily be averse to a creation of a new religion, but I think that’s different.)

  74. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Thanks for the questions @Protopiac. As a starting point, I trust that this group at least accepts the premise that there is Christianity and CHRISTIANITY!!TM. I would add a second premise that even though this authentic / inauthentic distinction is useful, in the end, we can’t prove what’s authentic vs. what’s inauthentic. We are all ultimately, placing our bets.

    To get this one out of the way, I attend a Tridentine Latin Mass (TLM) at a small Benedictine Abbey. I am one of the growing number of converts to the TLM (there’s quite a revival underway). I also have deep sympathies for Eastern Orthodoxy (probably due to Alyosha Karamazov being my first literary love). I long for the day that that the Great Schism is resolved.

    The story of my own conversion is 30+ years in the making and I don’t think that it’s realistic or relevant to share it here. The main point that I’ve been arguing for here in this thread is that we moderns have not done a very good job of examining our own metaphysics and that the more I examine modern metaphysics, the more I find it lacking and the more I see in it a causal connection to the north star ET problem of the widening gyre.

    Moderns regularly criticize Christianity is being naive and a crutch for false certainties, but I believe it’s actually the other way around. Moderns look at creation, existence and consciousness and go, “Yeah, I know what that is - it’s just the big bang and evolution. No need to tremble, exult or kneel over that one anymore. What’s on TV tonight?”

    Some representative books that have deeply influenced me:

    • St. Thomas Aquinas by Chesteron
    • Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age by Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose
    • Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology by Wolfgang Smith
    • A Metaphysics of the Christian Mystery by Bruno Berard
    • Religion and the Modern State by Christopher Dawson
    • Leisure the Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper
    • How the Catholic Church built Western Civilization by Thomas Woods

    I am not trying to convert anyone here - at least no more than all argumentation is ultimately about conversion. I’m here as a member of ET speaking my truth about how I understand our current predicament, its sources and its possible mitigations.

    How do my choices the crisis of faith? By realizing that everyone is ultimately “a person of faith” and it is sheer arrogance and ignorance to pretend otherwise. The historical horrors perpetrated by the Catholic Church make me weep and tremble but so do the horrors perpetrated by secular society.

    Vonnegut said, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” Leaving aside the implicit solipsism, there is a seed of truth there.

    At ET we speak of “what’s real” and “what’s true” and we believe that we have some ability to discern the true from the false. If that’s so then we also have to an answer to the ultimate source of reality and truth. I believe that this community implicitly accepts the common knowledge that there is such a truth ruler known as “empirically confirmed knowledge” (i.e., “trust the science”).

    I find that ruler severely lacking when it comes to all the things I ultimately really care about (like how to be a good husband, father and citizen) and I find myself free to seek truth beyond the limits of science while still enjoying the fruits of science.

    Sorry to be going on and on. There’s just no easy way to say these things. Thanks for listening.

  75. There is no spoon.
  76. I think the crux of the matter in so far as I disagree with you is that, I’ve never come across anyone who BELIEVES that is the truth. Evolution makes sense so people accept it as being the closest to the truth that we’ve discovered. The big bang makes sense as so far as the scientist explains it and I think I understood it. Religion doesn’t make sense personally so I don’t believe in it but there was always more zealots ready to tell me it is the ultimate truth.

    Here’s another way to look at it, out of the two branches we are discussing that explore these things, are you really telling me that science is the one telling me things with certainty or religion? Has that really been your experience? Because in so far as the core tenet of science, it’s only able to make claims in so far as it can test those things. I have never come across a video of ANY scienctist making claims that god doesn’t exist verifiably or that they have figured out how consciousness works. They may have theories or logical reasonings, but that doesn’t make it a fact and I don’t see anyone making those claims.

    Maybe that’s a difference in exposure, so I would like to rectify that by asking you to present ANY example of a scientist or “moderns” as you call it, where they say with certainty that the big bang is anything more than a theory. A mostly commonly accepted theory, but theory non the less. If you would like, I could show many videos of zealots presenting faith of god as facts in rebuttal.

    I think the problem here is that ofcourse everyone has to eventually come to the conclusion that you can only accept reality as is and that you can never know outside of your self. Aka. “I think, therefore I am.” In that framework, yes, everyone is a person of faith. We can only discern what we can take input from the external and make a leap of faith that we don’t have schizophrenia and it’s not just all in our heads.

    But there are ways to gain consensus with the external, a scientist may present data that can be tested by someone else to derive the same result. So you could possibly infer it’s not all in your head. Same with narratives, you can draw from your experiences and either agree or reject them. This is why I compare the ideas of being the stone and the river, a stone just sits exactly the same, a river changes.

    So big bang could be the theory of everything one day, but isn’t it fascinating and amazing how a “modern” can completely accept the idea that something else could be the explaination of everything another day? This is the theory of everything we are talking about!

    But I have never met anyone from a formal religion willing to entertain the idea that god doesn’t exist (in so far as that they personally could choose to believe that). My real life experience with deeply religious folk is that they show signs of extreme agitation or discomfort when presented with that idea, their noses flare and their eyes darken.

    It makes sense, a perceived attack on their identity can cause someone to genuinely go into flight or fight mode as if they were getting attacked by a bear. Even me, I got more impassioned as I am writing this so I have to remind myself that at the end of the day we are discussing ideas that will help us close any perceived gap between us.

    I think that’s why I like my idea that there are 2 personality types that decides whether you are suited for either line of thinking. It’s worse being not the right fit for the particular community and still trying to fit in. E.g. The only way you could present your argument meaningfully to a scientist is if you could test for god and present a repeatable data. The only way a scientist could present a meaningful argument to you is if they can presents you absolutes which they obviously can’t. So the only way I can see either side closing the widening gyre is accepting that they weren’t the right fit for it and choosing whats personally right for themselves. And for the most part, I think western society has done a fabulous job of it, but that’s just my personal experience.

  77. The thread is providing a lot of good stuff and it is hard to pick what to respond to. This in itself is a case study on hierarchy vs network. It is not hard to imagine a more sophisticated mechanism for the digital asynch interactions we are engaged in here. This could look something like applying a natural language processing algorithm to the conversation such that the network of links that connects the dialogue can be visualized and interacted with in real time. Emphasizing the relations between the dialogue rather than the elements of dialogue themselves. Think of the value! No surprise right? It could look like this:

    Oh I want to engage in the cluster of conversation about spirituality? Easy it’s the red one. Wait no I want to respond to Jim’s post on the music industry, click the yellow cluster and have at it. The hierarchical nature of the conversation itself (linear in time) presumes a kind of ergodicity (thanks for brining up Richard) which is not true. For example, forks at the beginning of the conversation could have more value to pursue than things being discussed at this point in the thread. But we have no way to know this or see it because of the simplicity of the interface for the dialogue (our forum as constructed).

    I’m enthralled by, and pushing the relational metaphysics narrative, because it seems like almost any topic we dive into these days, as a community, I see how the conversation maps to this metaphysics in a way that gives me that tingling spidey sense.

    In fact Richard the concept of ergodicity is just another fabulous way to see it.

    Yes the world is incredibly non-ergodic. It is the deeply embedded hierarchy archetype itself that leads us to believe otherwise. I think this is very much in line with your thinking on scientism but I think it applies much more broadly (per my comment above about the inexorability of evolution of hierarchical systems). We constantly think that if we investigate the world and see complexity, that this is a sign that we must go deeper to find something more simple. This implies a hierarchy with ‘the most simple’ thing at the top. The falsehood of ergodicity. Cartoonification is a great ET concept and it works because we are susceptible to it. We want to view the world in terms of simple statistical distributions. Even the widening gyre itself is provided as this simple model in which a single-moded population of 300 million people used to exist and has now fractured into a bimodal distribution. Ha! The reductiveness of such a model is obvious right? It is because the world used to be reasonably accurately perceived as hierarchical that we think in these terms. And it used to be reasonably accurate to think in this way because the flow of information itself was hierarchical.
    As the connectivity of the network that describes information flow across our society has risen exponentially, it is becoming clearer all the time how false this ergodic view of human societies has become. This seems in line with your thoughts on science but at odds with your take on religion.

    I appreciate you pushing back when you aren’t convinced as you state below. I started to respond down this path in a different way, but I found myself getting into an area of discussion that I think is worthwhile me starting another thread. It begins to get a little less metaphysical and a little bit more practical in terms of my thoughts about our community and the future. I’ll try to do that soon.

    One quick clarification, relevant to my comments above also, is that when I refer to the Network in an iconographic sense, I am talking about the potential connectivity that is innate to the existence of digital technology. I’m not referring to the current iteration of this technology in our world today, which I agree remains hierarchical from the standpoint of the dominance of the techno-oligarchy. But it need not be this way. My views require a long lens…long enough to view as a possibility that we eventually look back on the techno-oligarchy as a vestigial transition from hierarchies to networks. It will not be easy but every community that begins to build alternative ways of emphasizing and incentivizing Connections (digital AND real world) will be a skirmish in this grand fight that can be won. These skirmishes can be won because the goal will not be victory at scale but victory within a Community.

    I wanted to mention how I view @handshaw Jim’s post of the blog on the music industry. Through the lens of ‘network vs hierarchy’ I think it provides another good case study of my claims. I’m not certain if my interpretation of this example is in line with the intent Jim had in posting it, or other’s perceptions/responses. If not, then perhaps the case study will be helpful.

    I googled Zach Bryan yesterday so now I know who he is. The music industry is a great case study of how the existence of the Network slowly and inexorably degrades Hierarchy. Let’s do it again:

    If this is a Network that describes the musical interests of a consumer population…how do you decide “what will easily sell”? Lol…you don’t. But the music majors are structurally unable to do anything else because they operate at scale. Let’s say Zach Bryan is the teal-ish cluster towards the top right. It is perfectly right and normal that I didn’t know who he was. In a world where we ‘embrace a more natural disorder’ this kind of conclusion would no longer be shocking. We’d no longer expect to build a commercial entity that can succeed at engaging with the entire map. The revelation that this is the structure of the world means that it is now impossible to do this. Instead the future will be entirely about authenticity and credibility…which do not scale. The institutions of the world that are underpinned by hierarchical archetypes will forever fail to be able to understand, let alone respond, to the newly revealed non-ergodicity of the world. But they will continually try because they know not what else to do.

    This brings me to the question of salvageability that I asked Ben about in OH last week and also back to the more practical side of this discussion, for me. As I said I’ll try to start another thread that dives more specifically down that rabbit hole.

    Fun stuff, thanks!

  78. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Nature solves for a diversity of personality types! When we try to use others as a mirror to see ourselves we are in trouble with the truth.

    Just like @siffcapital said human consciousness is symbols all the way down, I suppose the flip side of that is that it’s projection all the way down. Whether you are “prickles” or “goo”, in the vocabulary of Alan Watts, it’s what you can see out there by virtue of cognition. I believe this is just one of those conundrums we must get comfortable with if we want to get as close to the truth as humanly possible, knowing we won’t ever reach that destination. That unsettled state may be easier for some whose personalities are higher on the openness to experience dimension. Predictability is cherished by those with higher conscientiousness. Natural selection has kept them both alive over time.

  79. My copy says The Medium is the Massage - apparently there are a couple of stories to explain that. = )

    Sounds like Tutu is read up on Wittgenstein; I’m getting some of the same vibes.

    Indeed it is - enjoying it!

  80. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Loving this dialogue. Loving the Pack. :heartbeat:

    Before responding to other posts and questions, I’d like to try to get past some of the perceived conflict arising around my advocacy for a reconsideration of Christianity by summarizing my thoughts one last time. Here are the key points I’ve been attempting to make:

    1. Science begins with a narrowing of our focus to measurable attributes of “real” things. It has no answer for how a measurer came to measure anything in the first place. It can never answer that question. It is eternally mute on the problem of the measurer.
    2. Christianity is a set of sacred symbols, teachings and practices developed and curated over millennia in the West that address the transcendent questions that science can never address.
    3. Scientism is a modern religion (with its own transcendental powers, i.e., gods) taught in our universities today which claims that science and the scientific method are the best or only way to render truth about the world and reality. Scientism is believed by most educated people today (including by many people that call themselves Christians).
    4. Organizations and institutions are necessary and good in society and we must participate in them and support them even though they will all eventually end up primarily focused on preserving their own power shortly before they collapse.

    I believe that Christianity and science are both treasures of western civilization. I believe that scientism is the ultimate source of the widening gyre because it glosses over the inescapable mysteries of existence and fails to provide any guidelines for how to order and organize our inner lives.

    We can look both outward and inward. Looking both outward and inward we see multiplicity and we seek unity amidst the multiplicity. Science is the West’s quest to find unity amidst the outer measurable multiplicity. Christianity is the West’s quest to find unity amidst the inner immeasurable multiplicity. (I really love the word immeasurable because it means too large, extensive, or extreme to measure.)

    Science and Christianity are the West’s repositories of unifying principles amidst material and spiritual multiplicity.

    I get it that I am daring to call out Christianity here as uniquely suited to assuage the widening gyre in the West. I believe it to be true. I agree with Jonathan Pageau who said (near the starting point of the video posted earlier):

    “I think that Christianity is ultimately a better solution to the question of duality because it does not deny the infinite transcendence of God but in that infinite transcendence, all of reality can participate. It’s a better solution than wanting to extinguish manifestation.”


    For those who would say, “Well, Christianity isn’t true,” I offer the watertight reasoning of Jean Borella via Bruno Berard as to why the reality of sacred forms cannot be denied.

    • To deny the transcendence of sacred forms (symbols) - to deny that these are in effect messages from beyond the conceptual world - is to reduce these sacred forms to productions of the human unconscious mind.
    • But if such is the general rule for the universal process which alienates minds from the real, how is it possible that some minds are spared from that alienation?
    • The ‘illusion of the sacred’ is therefore neither structural nor universal, and one has failed to establish the so-called ‘ineluctable alienation of religion’ on structural or universal grounds.
    • This in turns lays bare the pretentiousness and fallacy of philosophers who presume to have eluded an alienation declared universal.

    Galileo, Derrida, Kant, Marx, Freud and the like have all claimed to have eluded this universal alienation. Scientism claims to elude this universal alienation. They’re all deceivers or deceived.
    Science itself is silent on the question. Aquinas, as far as I know, was the last western philosopher to be able to hold the duality of unity and multiplicity together without pretending to have eluded this universal alienation.

    Christianity holds it together via the infinite transcendence of God in which all of reality participates.


    Love. Is. Real.

  81. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    And I believe that the widening gyre is caused by our scaling our communities so that practices and local groups become institutions and dogmas. Maybe you are looking for the wrong thing in the right place?

  82. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    I am not deeply familiar with McLuhan but I like that notion. My very general understanding of his ideas goes something like words vs. graphics and how modern media since the saliency of the moving picture has enchanted our brains, a large portion of which is devoted to visual processing (obviously paraphrasing here and perhaps incorrectly). This fun turn of one letter from message to massage brings up all kinds of thoughts for me!

    Having just finished watching a talk on the CNP with Anne Nelson, I am thinking about how that group has been rather successful using the medium of talk radio to massage ideas about Christianity and capitalism. Here is the talk I watched if anyone is interested to have a listen:

    Anne talks with the moderator about her research on this group and their influence in politics over the last few decades. She notes that one of the founders was the father of direct mail as politics, another kind of medium for the massaged message. I’m fascinated by the business and political success of these efforts from a marketing perspective, meaning knowing your customer segments and channels to reach them for effective messaging. It seems to me the religious right has been very effective with a focus on massages given through the car radio and the home mailbox.

    I briefly turned my thoughts to the Internet and what kind of massages its medium is fit for but I’m going to leave it here before I get too vulgar… let’s just say that the reflection of yourself in the screen in front of you is telling.

  83. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    I don’t know Richard. I appreciate the depth of your feeling and philosophical orientation but how far have you looked, really? I’m not sure if Native American religion (broad brush here…) even has a notion of alienation. In the native view, man is in relationship with his environment including the critters in it which s/he views as kin. In Taoism one is taught to be like the water, meaning no a prioris and finding the path of least resistance by cultivating awareness and channeling your internal energy.

    Maybe this alienation you reference is something for people who have made some type of exodus. Just an idea, not a claim.

    I’ve tread some fun paths in the mind pondering what is really meant by the term ‘indigenous’. In fall of 2020 as I was preparing for a panel discussion on food innovation and what it might mean to have a “regenerative economy”, I discussed with my Native American co-host whether we wanted to do a land acknowledgement to start the event, as was starting to become customary in various politically progressive circles, e.g. the City and County of San Francisco had started doing so. Knowing that our audience would be a mix of people in the US and people in Europe, I wondered whether such an act would resonate at all across the Atlantic and asked myself “actually, is there such thing as indigenous Europeans?” and discovered the Sámi of Finland in my web searching. But I still didn’t really have a good working definition for indigenous and what people are invoking when using it. I still don’t but I’ve come to think it probably has a mental referent of hunter gatherer in the minds of most Westerners.

    Anyhow, this thought experiment made me realize that as a descendant of settlers, I am/my family is rather unrooted as are most, but not all, Americans. In that sense I feel a connection to the notion of exodus, and in that sense a connection with people who live in a place that they are not from. In that spirit, it may have been in reading one of Ben’s pieces where I really connected with the lyrics to Rivers of Babylon. I don’t recall if it was in his piece where I learned that is one of like 3 popular songs to have ever been created using straight up bible passages.

    I can also interpret the alienation you speak of as rooted in a disconnection from nature. Man is part of nature and our inability/refusal to grok that frame as Westerners is what I believe to be at the root of our modern evils. Chief Seattle summed it up way better than I can when he said “the end of living and the beginning of survival” in the 1855 letter to POTUS reprinted here:

    I believe humankind must claim its natural right and recuperate this sense of being part of nature, else we’ll pretty much all be exiled as climate refugees. Again, Chief Seattle had some choice words in that letter to describe (what has become) the climate crisis:

    “For all things share the same breath – the beasts, the trees, and the man. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes.”

  84. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    There is no foreground without background. There is no environment without us. There is no us without our environment. What we have to reclaim and bury is the notion that somehow we exist outside of our context. Our context doesn’t happen to us. Our context is us.

  85. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    It’s like learning to play the guitar – you have to both feel it inside and watch what your fingers are doing until they fuse into one. Or at least until you get good enough that you no longer have to observe and perform simultaneously! Haven’t gotten there so far myself but it’s a good motivator to pick up the guitar again.

  86. Aye, Richard, you’ve bookended it well, to which I would only add this: Biblical, New Testament Christianity is exactly where you left us. Love. Is. Real.

    Christianity™ is repackaged Pharisaical legalism and empty religion (contrary to Micah 6:8, if you like actual references).

    The Tao describes the descent accurately.

    “When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
    When goodness is lost, there is morality.
    When morality is lost, there is ritual.
    Ritual is the husk of true faith,
    the beginning of chaos.”

  87. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    I just started playing bass and last night I was improvising over a 2-5-1 chord progression backing track (12 minutes long) that I have worked on for six months. There was a moment when I realized I was no longer struggling to find the notes or play the right scales. The fretboard and I were one on that level.

    Which of course elevated me to the next level of challenge. Okay I am using the right syllables and building words that sound like words. However, can I now build phrases with meaning. Can I start to meld my line with the overall structure of the progression and not just the specific chord I am on.

    I was so lost in my playing that I was sad when the backing track ended. And then I realized I had been playing for 12 minutes straight, totally engrossed. Which made me smile, because in the end, the journey is the destination. I went to bed very happy.

  88. I’m sure there’s a supportive quote from Csikszentmihalyi about this kind of ‘flow’ state. Beautiful spot to be in the pocket like that, though. Congrats. = )

  89. zenzei,

    I’m an adult student of the cello. I’ve gotten fleeting glimpses of that. Fleeting, It’s wonderful, even though fleeting.

    happy jim, but not ready for prime time,

  90. Cactus,

    I’ve found some flow in my life recently, while waking up early with a thought, brewing a cup of coffee and writing in my journal. It helps to be retired.

    In my past airline career as a pilot, I’ve learned to fly many airplanes. One finishes the training certified TM, After a year flying the aircraft it starts to flow.


  91. Avatar for naiguy naiguy says:

    Apologies if my assumption you meditate is incorrect, but would you agree that focus on intentional practice (your improvised jazz riffing in this case) or the practice of intentional focus (what we think of as traditional sitting meditation) are one in the same? Both of which result in, after much practice, the state of ‘being in the now’? Not thinking about what your doing but doing it without thinking.

    I personally am of the opinion they are. I also believe that those who describe themselves being in a flow state, the zone or being in the now are all experiencing pretty much the same thing and are just using different methods to achieve that state. For me I think of those ‘states of being’ as simply being immensely focused on an activity or interest someone has worked to become proficient in. Be it sports, improvised musical jam session or sitting meditation. (This could be flat-out right wrong or even common knowledge; in this case it’s just my opinion)

    Does anyone know if there is a name for what is experienced when multiple people are working together and experience this feeling? For example (and to stick with the music theme) a live jazz session that wasn’t rehearsed with players who maybe haven’t played together but who are just on the same “wave length”?

    Would something like this still be considered an individual experience or state of being? Or is the shared experience as a whole something different from the individual experience. Assuming all who shared the experience also felt the flow, zone and/or the now.

    Is there a release date for: ‘Bass the Zenzie Way: Metaphysical Sounds of the Now’?

  92. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    I definitely engage in meditative like practices where I sit and listen to my thoughts with the purpose of being free of them. I do it while walking my dog as much as sitting down in a chair. It involves the idea of coming back to the world as it is, not as your mind wants it to be.

    In music its called “being in the pocket” and it is the holy grail. It is when the band understands the nature of rhythm and they are all on the groove, listening and playing with each other. Communing as it were.

    Ian, my journey is taking me to the place where I am no longer interested in experiencing the world individually. Once the idea of no foreground/no background - all is unity - starts to set in. You see everything in terms of the collective. Even when you are not in the company of others of your species. (see what I did there?)

    For those of you coming to ET Connect - if anyone is interested in some jam sessions (all ranges, everyone welcome) I’ll look into getting a room set-up with rental instruments so we can commune through rhythm, sound and tone. :slight_smile: I’ll even arrange for a Cello for Jim!

  93. I have been an excellent “doer” all my life, and only recently have I become intentional about who I am “being”. Before, I was in my head with my thoughts, alone even when with others. Now, at my best, I am powerfully present and joyfully creative. For me the shift required awareness, intentionality and practice.

  94. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Catching up after falling behind …

    There’s no getting around some truly awful institutional history. Is there any significant institution that doesn’t have a problematic history? Institutions, it seems to me, are the embodiment of ideas. Just like our own bodies, they contract diseases. Sometimes they heal and sometimes they die. We shouldn’t ignore the unpleasant parts of our history but I don’t see how we can transcend all institutions either. I think that we need to try to heal our institutions rather than euthanize them.

    I’m thrilled that we agree on a couple of HUGE things: 1) Scientism is a hierarchical religion of efficiency promulgated by the merchant class and 2) the “individual behavioral values” advocated by Jesus Christ are a grammar of unity. That’s some serious common ground.

    This is a really great point and I love the optimism here that we’ve actually done a pretty good job of reconciling these two poles. As my immediately prior post suggests, I’m looking for a way that these two poles can be reconciled and I’m also looking into history to see where these two poles became irreparably severed rather than being understood as a yin/yang type of unity. That’s where metaphysics comes into play.

    OK, you’ve got my attention. What exactly is “relational metaphysics”? (P.S. where are those network charts from?)

    I guess that where I’m trying to get to here is to acknowledge that “scientific faith” actually does exist but for the most part it goes unexamined as a faith. An unexamined faith can’t be a “clear-eyed” faith. Science itself is not faith-based but once groups of scientists start gathering together to formulate and promulgate worldviews from the ECK (data) generated by science, faith enters the picture - and I find it to be a very destructive and inhumane faith when examined.

    This is an important interview by Celia Farber of U.C. Berkeley zoologist Richard Strohman talking about the deep problems in the (highly profitable) field of gene therapy (i.e., genetic determinism). I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

    The money sentence is, “If we think that the world of organisms is a world of machines, we will begin to treat each other as machines.”

    We’re still caught up in a highly destructive scientistic faith in mechanism and reductionism.

    I’m not sure that I really follow here. Are you talking about things like local parent-involved education becoming a national public school system with bureaucrats, administrators and unions?

    I had the privilege once of spending a week on a Navajo and Hopi reservation. It changed my life for sure. I just don’t see, however, that our occidental culture is going to adopt an indigenous culture at scale. Good place to visit though.

    I love the whole descent series but the first line really hit me the most. Thank you.

    Me too! Recently, I started a regular prayer practice. Kneeling is an interesting posture to spend time in.

  95. Appreciate all the contributions, the direction and quantity of my thoughts this past week that are downstream from these interactions vastly outnumbers my ability/time to crystallize these into responses. I think the religion vs science part of the conversation is important and worthwhile but I’ll save that focus for later (though, I suppose it nicely links up with what I’m about to try to say as well).

    In the OH chat on Friday I mentioned that I’d post something here about the ‘relational quantum mechanics’ or RQM take on Schrodinger’s Cat. Ben had brought up the famous paradox in reference to the state of the US economy (I bring this up just for the metaphysical fun of it, not because it is relevant to Ben’s point). I can kill a couple cats with one stone now too since Richard set me up so nicely.

    Of course these are not identical questions. Relationalism, broadly, refers to any theoretical framework that emphasizes the relationship between things as more fundamental ontologically than the things themselves. Most of my comments above about network vs hierarchy, etc, have been an attempt to discuss things like Community within this metaphysical framework and I’ll try not to be repetitive. My intent with a relational metaphysics is broader in scope now, but the journey for me has been mostly physics. I suppose Epsilon Theory has been the trigger for this scope change now that I think about it. But I’ve gotten this far into the thread and not circled back to provide some of the physics foundation, hopefully it is both relevant and interesting.

    Carlo Rovelli is one of the pioneers of RQM and the initial chapters of his popular book “Reality is Not What It Seems” has a fantastic narrative laying out the history of human thought in the ontological framework of ‘What is reality made of?’ The throughline of this narrative begins with Leucippus and Democritus, the first atomists, and passes through Plato/Aristotle, Christianity vs Enlightenment, Newton vs Leibniz, Waves vs Particles, Mach/Einstein vs classical physics, modern relational philosophy starting from Whitehead, and now quantum mechanics vs general relativity. I think this throughline can be characterized, as many things can, as this classic oscillation (wave mechanics pun intended) that shows up in almost any natural or human process. One school of thought grows into a dominance that overshoots an equilibrium, suffers a correction which enables growth into dominance of another school of thought, and the process repeats. (This is the fork in this post I’ll not take that, for me, also leads to and contextualizes the Christianity vs science western world discussion). I think that having this epic context in mind is important for the story to hit home.

    So to be specific about what a relational theory looks like, it is essentially anti-Cartesian. Take a set of points (let’s call them events) A, B, and C. From Descartes and Newton onward the water in which we swim has been to describe these events on an abstract coordinate plane, let’s say as functions of location in space x and time t. So each event in this framework is A(x,t), B(x,t), and C(x,t). Even Newton fully recognized this was a model that provided mathematical convenience but was an assumption, useful but unnecessary (Newton’s ‘hypotheses non fingo’ or ‘I frame no hypotheses’, since latin phrases are always fun). An identical and equally valid framework does not require x and t at all but just the relationship of the events, or A(B,C), B(C,A), C(B,A). The ontology in relationalism is that this characterization is real and space and time are not.

    (Scientism aside: I believe that many ‘scientists’ largely realize [used to realize?] that this aspect of correspondence, i.e. providing a convenient and useful framework, is the basic nature of their models/theories vs reality. Models are map and not territory. Scientism reflects an institutionalized misunderstanding or misappropriation of this nature that has infected the broader public.)

    Ok apologies for so much background info before getting back to Schrodinger’s Cat. I will link to a recent RQM paper by Rovelli that I think is pretty accessible and I’ll try to constrain myself to summarizing. The basis for RQM starts with a claim that the Schrodinger equation is an unnecessary conceptual step (another technically convenient model) in quantum mechanics. Just like space and time, it provides a technically convenient model via introduction of the wave function ψ but this has lead to much interpretational difficulty (the measurement problem). Heisenberg’s earlier discovery of qp - pq = i ħ (the quantum ‘canonical commutation relation’ where q is position and p is momentum, which leads easily to the uncertainty principle) was all that was necessary for formulation of QM. It places focus back on the discreteness concept that is at heart of quantum mechanics. In contrast the smoothly evolving wave function folds this discreteness into the measurement problem.

    (Note that Schrodinger’s wave function is explicitly a function of space and time, again, whereas the commutation relation is…well… relational because it is a function of relative position and momentum. So Heisenberg vs Schrodinger is just another skirmish in the age old war between relationalism and substantivalism.)

    The various solutions and interpretations of the measurement problem, including a lot of perhaps dubious metaphysical interpretations, stem from a question of what constitutes a measurement. RQM can be said to be the postulates: 1) interactions are measurements (meaning that system variables take a value when an interaction occurs) and 2) values of system variables are only defined relative to the system (implying these values are not defined relative to outside systems).

    The paradox of Schrodinger’s Cat comes from interpreting the wave function and it’s superposition of quantum states (dead and alive) as an ontological reality to observers who are not part of the cat-detector-box system. Sorry to be boring and throw water on the paradox but RQM resolves this somewhat straightforwardly. If you were TRULY an isolated observer from that system, then the system does not really exist for you (it is not defined). In the cat’s world, the interactions between the cat and the box and the detector have long ago caused ‘decoherence’ or the loss of any strange quantum mechanical superpositions, so in the cat-box-detector system the cat is either alive or it is dead despite your lack of knowledge. And lastly…you are not TRULY an isolated observer from this system unless you are outside of the observable universe that is centered on this system, because both your system and the cat system have mass and are interacting gravitationally, at the least. So even for you the paradox is not real despite lack of knowledge.

    Schrodinger’s Cat is sort of boring in RQM (again, sorry), but entanglement is still pretty cool. This is hand wavy and out of my depth but in the ‘loop quantum gravity’ theory that is closely tied to RQM I think it can be said that the relationships (e.g. A(B,C) etc.) or interactions in a system ‘build up’ spacetime. It is not that space and time are not real per se, it is just that they are constructions based on events in the system. Entanglement describes a scenario where a system has been sufficiently isolated from other systems such that the relationship between them defines the spacetime of their system. Their interaction appears ‘non-local’ to us because our system has an interaction-defined spacetime that is isolated from theirs, but in their entangled state they are not truly separated from each other.

    Quick pop back up out of the physics rabbit hole and back to metaphysics and repetition of earlier comments. For me this relational perspective is inducing a reaction to a lot of what I hear in the world that is focused on Unity as a concept, and which I’ve commented on much above. If we are discussing transempirical concepts in a religious or spiritual framework then I believe Unity can be real. But outside of that realm there is no unity because there is no relationship within its conception. Thus the falsity of hierarchical archetypes, which I would seek to replace with ‘multiplicitous’ archetypes in which systems are optimized for relationships. The consequence of this is that order is secondary. Just like the consequence of relational physics is the abandonment of the ‘strong realism’ implied by existence of space and time.

    Well this was Sunday church for me, if anyone made it this far thanks for reading! Here is the recent Rovelli paper I mentioned. It starts to get a bit technical in a few places (which can be skipped) but is not long and has lots of good history and of course lots more depth and expertise to back up the claims.


  96. Alan,

    I enjoyed the roller coaster ride through the ‘uncertainty’ of the water in which I swim,

    I appreciate the connection/disconnection of using cartesian coordinates to explain entanglement.

    We need better metaphors.

    I await another of your ‘readings’ of the catnip leaves in Schrodinger’s cat’s litter box.


    “The electron is a theory. But the theory is so good we can almost consider them real.”
    — Richard P. Feynman

  97. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    I tried to click on the heart tag 10x but it would only count 1.

    Schrodinger’s Cat (as most people refer to it) has about as much reality as Carroll’s Cheshire Cat.

    It will take some time for me to work through Covelli’s paper but the initial impression is a whiff of truth.

    Thanks very much.

  98. Kaiser—My experience is the brain can understand unity yet it is in silence not in words.

  99. Richard—I guess I need to say it as no else is perhaps out of politeness. Christianity is a myth, no different than the Upanishads or Aztec Pantheism to name just two out of countless examples. Mythology has its value and for the sake of conversation comparing it to science can stimulate debate but do so is a category mistake. As some of the pack have cited, science is provisional and accepted as such. Christians aren’t offering a heuristic method but a religion. Proselytizing should have its own thread! :joy:

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