Author Topic: The Spirit World of Ideas  (Read 1460 times)

Cramulus

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The Spirit World of Ideas
« on: January 25, 2012, 03:40:02 pm »


The Spirit World of Ideas

Quote from: http://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum/index.php/topic,26428.msg926484.html#msg926484
Memetic processes occur in a space which is not tied to physical geography. We can think of memetic interactions as taking place within "meme space", a virtual place that occupies the memory of a communication network. This is analogous to a "cyber space" which occurs within one's mind. It is within this meme space that we will visualize memetic systems and nodes interacting with one another.

Memetics is a tool for describing the process through which culture is generated and inherited. The basic idea is that memes (units of cultural inheritance) are transmitted (and modified in the process) between communication nodes. A node could be an individual or an organization - anything capable of transmitting information and receiving feedback. Ideas are refined through feedback loops - for example, if a company produces an offensive commercial, they receive feedback in terms of sales and PR, and if they're intelligent, they will change how they communicate until they're getting better feedback. Our culture is a complex network of these feedback loops.

Typically, we look at the world from a human-centric point of view - we are independent actors, we have free will to choose our own actions, and information is nonliving -- it's inert, it's just data!

There is another way of looking at things though, and I think this is sometimes a more useful way of understanding behavior/culture/current events. I call it the Spirit World of Ideas. (sometimes called "memespace")

In the Spirit World of Ideas, information is the real life force in the cosmos, and we are just the dumb hardware designed to carry it.

An idea has its own life cycle. Small ideas are like bugs - they have a short life span, so reproduction is a challenge. Big ideas start off small, but as they gain representation in the world, they acquire defenses, they make redundant copies of themselves, they diversify, they mutate, they better reward their hosts. (Much like flowers - bees don't carry pollen for flowers with no nectar!)

To explain this way of thinking, let's look at a big idea -- say Christianity. Christianity started off as a small cult. Something about that idea provided a benefit to people, so they internalized it, talked about it, spread it, reaped the benefits (benefits like status, community, and mayyyybe some spiritual experiences). Lots of versions of Christianity appeared - the gnostics, the catholic church, et cetera. Christianity planted itself in a lot of different types of soil. Some soil was more fertile than other soil.

Christianity competed with other ideas for territory, particularly the Roman religion. The territory isn't physical, like churches or kingdoms, the territory is people's minds. (meme space) The Roman religion defended its territory by destroying the physical idea carriers. Christian writings were suppressed. This is natural selection in action -- only the most coherent, powerful, and organized versions of Christianity survived. It's like using vaccines to build a super-virus.

You can see how we can talk about ideas independently of human beings. We can describe ideas as their own semi-autonomous cellular organisms, capable of living, reproducing, producing waste, and one day dying. If we describe ideas as organisms with their own identity, then it makes sense to look at humans as the environment in which these ideas live. We humans are the landscape of the Spirit World of Ideas. We are a physical site where bundles of ideas compete, a bridge between the twin planes of biology and information.

In the Spirit World of Ideas, what we think of as Free Will is just the process of one idea within that bundle beating the others. It's able to exert more control over its host than its competition by exploiting the reward systems of that particular biological landscape. Your process of choosing (be it a religion or what to have for lunch) is an act of natural selection. Speaking to other people about ideas is like being a bee, carrying pollen for our own reasons, yet in doing so, we perform an essential role in something else's reproductive process.



That's the brief explanation about how to see the Spirit World of Ideas.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 03:46:03 pm by Cramulus »

Telarus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2012, 12:46:25 pm »
In my experience, language signifies into two named Spaces.
One is "physical" reality, more accurately called the local environment as received via sense-data. Meat Space.
The other is the internal representation which we carry around and experience this reality through. Meme Space.

In meat space we are directly concerned about what the body is sensing and dealing with minute to minute. In meme space, we are primarily concerned with the manipulation of symbols-as-things. In this realm, we use/hijack our bodily hardware which evolved for one use for a separate use.. Our body becomes metaphor. Imaging a tennis game will activate any of your own previously imprinted tennis reflexes, and the actual nerve signal patterns used for that last game you played will que up quietly in your muscle cortex memory. The morality of imagined actions gets determined partly with our taste/smell networks, because intense inputs on those vectors trigger the intense immediate, "emotional" reactions needed to pass judgement on a fiction.

In meat space, the convention(fiction) that what-is-"I" stops at my skin-barrier is convenient. The concept of "me" allows me to judge when I may harm myself (watch out for that rogue bicyclist!), and allows the expansion of certain mirror neuron networks in my brain in order to acquire social skills like reading another person's body language.

In meme space, with our current robust communication networks, we have largely done away with the concept of "me". I, as Telarus, don't stop being "on the internet" when I log off this forum (as rare as that happens). "I'm" (my memes) still lodged in a hundred different network's memories and databases. Each expression of my Pattern is evidence of my Pattern Integrity (the existence apart from any individual manifestation of my Pattern). Identity is fluid. I can and have been somebody else on different forum spaces.

The crazy thing is that people realized this well before our robust, networked, memory-resilient communications infrastructure existed.

The Zen/Chan sects have a saying, "One mind plus one mind equals one mind." (this is the reason water is so often used as a metaphor, as "one drop" plus "one drop" equals "one drop").

Recently, I have been impressed to see this manifest as karma(lit. action upon) in the current culture. Shining examples include:

Stephen Colbert making his "character" as real as his "real person" (see the NYT article "The Three Stephen Colberts").
The second is that Jim Carry completely cracked and had a satori experience he still hasn't quite recovered from when he realized that his "real person" was no more than a character (see him babble about mystic universal light while self-activating a whole slew of neurotransmitters here).




I really really think that most people on the planet cannot differentiate when language is used to refer to meat space vs/ when it refers to meme-space.

The people who believe it when some other monkey says that hurricanes are anti-homosexual messages from God. Who truly believe that Armageddon actually happened. Who have no problem with talking about turning large populated areas on another continent into "glass parking lots".

There are various theories as to why this is (and if this is part of the "everyone is walking around asleep" meme running through traditional mysticism), but I like the idea that many of them are caught up in Feedback Loops (internal and external via larger structures like organizations) which are extracting value from the fact that these people can't tell the freaking difference.
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Cramulus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2012, 02:43:16 pm »
thanks for the thoughtful reply, big T. My reply is a bit tangenty, but you kicked up some good dust and I don't want to let it go.

I really really think that most people on the planet cannot differentiate when language is used to refer to meat space vs/ when it refers to meme-space.

Yes, totally!

I had a conversation yesterday about Georg Cantor, his theory of infinities.

I've experienced this reaction twice: When I talk about Georg Cantor and his concept that there are multiple infinities, and some are bigger than others, people get angry. It's a reaction that confuses me, I think because people view Infinity as the "highest amount", so how could anything be higher? But if there are infinite fractions between each integer, then the number of (infinite) fractions  is larger than the number of (infinite) integers.

What he hated the most was the idea that Georg Cantor found "God" at the top of all those infinities.

And I had to interject there - because my friend is really into Carl Sagan, so I figured that this mathematical way of understanding of the universe's beauty would really appeal to him. But he's so hung up on there not being a "god" that he's shielded himself from the divine revelation Cantor found between all those numbers.


I've really grown very fond of Doloras LaPichio (of Chaos Marxism)'s description of the "Holy Spirit":

Quote
Because God doesn't exist in the world of blind matter and inescapable natural law. In contrast, the world of Love and Meaning and Compassion and really really good orgasms and cuddles and niceness and warm milk is nothing but God. We live in the hologram caused by the overlapping of the two worlds, to use Grant Morrison's terminology which I think he took from Philip K Dick.

Quote
the Revolution ... the Holy Spirit ... what makes cats scream in the night and poets howl at the moon... the "best within all of us".

I think the concept of meme space helped me understand where God is in this universe.

See, I'm really interested in religion, spirituality, and the "religious experience". I'm especially interested in the emerging religious experiences, the new names of God that did not exist until 2012... A lot of those religious people really have found something, and I want to know what it is, and I think it's possible to align oneself with it WITHOUT relying on mysticism. But for me to understand what they're talking about, we have to speak a common vocabulary---and that means I have to adapt my vocabulary to understand what they're saying.

So this holiday season, when people said "God bless you", I mentally substituted Sagan's "the universe trying to know itself" for God. When people talk about the "holy spirit", I know that they're really referring to the moment when my cat is happy I'm home and wants to cuddle up in my lap and purr.

Is God compatible with scientific materialism?

It really depends on how you define God.

If you accept scientific materialism as the highest and truest reality, the anybody who talks about God sounds like a madman. Like Bill Maher says, "You put your hands together and imagine god, then you hear him talking to you? You're fucking crazy." Well yeah, if you literally think that there's a gaseous male vertebrate you can psychically communicate with, it does sound insane!

But if God is Sagan's "the universe trying to understand itself", and the holy spirit is the things which draw us together and make us feel compassion, and maybe Christ is the sacrifices we make for those things, then it's a little bit easier for me to get something from all that Abrahamic language.

Quote
Chapter 25
There is Something that exists,
beyond the Illusions of Order and Disorder.
It is all things, and unknowable in full.
We only see small parts of It,
but are convinced what we see is the entire Universe.

For lack of a better name, I call It "Chaos".
At dinner parties, I claim It is everything Possible and Impossible.
When asked why not call It "god",
I point out that their head is too fucking small.

Because we create the Illusions in which we live,
we are more creative than Chaos.
Because we believe in the Illusions we create,
our heads are too fucking small.
In this way, we reflect our creations.





Quote
I like the idea that many of them are caught up in Feedback Loops (internal and external via larger structures like organizations) which are extracting value from the fact that these people can't tell the freaking difference.

I like that meme. A lot, actually. Let's workshop this.

Would you say this is a once sentence description of "The Spider"?


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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2012, 04:51:48 pm »
I don't have a damned thing to add right now, but I like where this is going.
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Cramulus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2012, 05:11:51 pm »


The person I was having this discussion with brought up Sagan's point, that you can talk about these cosmic experiences without referring to some kind of male vertebrate creator spirit. Why use the word God at all?

My answer to that question is in a few parts:

(1) I want to understand them! I want to understand the divine experience Georg Cantor (and Einstein and Gallileo and other scientists who were blown away by natural things) had. And that if I have to be really picky about language, I will never wrap my head around what he's talking about -- I'll be too busy disagreeing with the framework to understand the idea his framework is pointing at.

(2) It's better for me to come up with a personal definition of God that helps me understand what the God people are talking about
             than it is to dismiss anybody that mentions God as some kind of fanatic lunatic.

Our culture is full of things that suck. If you spend all your time focusing on those things, you have joined them. Rather than throwing out all religion with those pedophile catholic priests, I want to fit the meaningful parts of each religion and make something akin to a stone soup. A soup that's perfectly favored for the world I actually live in.





In short, I want to build linguistic bridges instead of barriers so that we can meet in a common memespace.

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2012, 05:13:06 pm »
This sounds like Memetic False Conciousness.

Which I reject on account of I'm a person, not a processor.
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The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2012, 05:19:28 pm »
Reading more, it's not exactly the same thing.

However, I still reject the notion that ideas are universal and that we are just output devices, "dumb hardware".

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Cramulus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2012, 05:24:08 pm »
it's not true or false, it's a model useful for understanding the lifecycle of ideas; another way of looking at information

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2012, 05:33:24 pm »
it's not true or false, it's a model useful for understanding the lifecycle of ideas; another way of looking at information

Hmm.  I still don't see it.  And it IS false, unless you've got some medium of transmission.  However, as a model...

Okay, let's look at "parallel invention", when two things are invented at the same time by different people in different places (or so close together in time that information hasn't had time to go from one inventor's region to another).  The automobile.  The telephone.  Calculus.

Some mystics like to claim that this is evidence of some sort of gestalt mind, when it's really just evidence of informational gestalt.  People have access to information which accumulates over time.  When enough information is commonly available, a given number of people will develop on it.

The car, for example, was just a matter of time.  You already had steam locomotives, and with the small and powerful internal combustion engine, it was hardly any surprise that 3 people were making cars at the same time.

Calculus was invented based on the fact that no existing math was able to describe observational data.  You had mathematicians working all over the world to come up with something, so 2 people developing calculus within months of each other is no shock.

Same goes with any idea.  Instead of a model of spirits conveying information, what about a giant garbage heap with 10% good, useable stuff in it?  The people willing to dig for and assemble that 10% produce engineering marvels and great works of art.  The people who just skim off the surface create the Pocket Fisherman and Twilight.

Obviously, the heap is mankind's store of accumulated information, 90% of which is bad signal.   
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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2012, 05:38:44 pm »
So, information is like Legos, and information increases with time.

So at some point in time, you have enough of the kinds of Legos needed to invent calculus (if you can correctly identify them), which means inevitably, some people will.

When eventually you look back at it in history, you will be able to make an observation that "Before time period X, there was no calculus, and after time period X, there was a lot of calculus", and from there you can make false conclusions that "the calculus fairy went around putting the same idea in people's heads."

Does that sound about right?
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The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2012, 05:39:29 pm »
So, information is like Legos, and information increases with time.

So at some point in time, you have enough of the kinds of Legos needed to invent calculus (if you can correctly identify them), which means inevitably, some people will.

When eventually you look back at it in history, you will be able to make an observation that "Before time period X, there was no calculus, and after time period X, there was a lot of calculus", and from there you can make false conclusions that "the calculus fairy went around putting the same idea in people's heads."

Does that sound about right?

Exactly.
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Cramulus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2012, 05:50:03 pm »
Okay, let's look at "parallel invention", when two things are invented at the same time by different people in different places (or so close together in time that information hasn't had time to go from one inventor's region to another).  The automobile.  The telephone.  Calculus.

Some mystics like to claim that this is evidence of some sort of gestalt mind, when it's really just evidence of informational gestalt.  People have access to information which accumulates over time.  When enough information is commonly available, a given number of people will develop on it.

The car, for example, was just a matter of time.  You already had steam locomotives, and with the small and powerful internal combustion engine, it was hardly any surprise that 3 people were making cars at the same time.

Calculus was invented based on the fact that no existing math was able to describe observational data.  You had mathematicians working all over the world to come up with something, so 2 people developing calculus within months of each other is no shock.

sure, and I don't think that's in conflict with the idea of memespace.

Quote
Same goes with any idea.  Instead of a model of spirits conveying information, what about a giant garbage heap with 10% good, useable stuff in it?

there are no spirits in memespace

another way to refer to memespace would be an "information ecosystem". Memetics is the same thing as studying ecology, but for concepts and ideas. Instead of studying the relationship between flora and fauna and the climate, you're looking at brands and communication nodes and markets ... The more I get into it, the more I find that the two (ecology and memetics) are remarkably similar.

I have a feeling Systems Theory tastes the same too, but I have less experience with that.

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2012, 05:55:38 pm »
Hmm.  I still don't see it.  And it IS false, unless you've got some medium of transmission.
There's obviously a method of transmission: language, art, and observation.
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The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2012, 06:22:46 pm »
Hmm.  I still don't see it.  And it IS false, unless you've got some medium of transmission.
There's obviously a method of transmission: language, art, and observation.

Um, yeah.  You have to remember that I'm kind of stupid and can't see that sort of connection...But they kind of have to get into SOMEONE'S head FIRST, right?

Chicken or the egg?

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Cramulus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2012, 07:53:38 pm »
If I understand your question correctly -- I think humans (and their tools) are the medium of transmission.

-Ideas start in brains. They usually are born of the juxtaposition between two or more ideas. (sharp rock + long stick = spear)
-Ideas travel to other brains via communication (language, art, observation). Their ability to do this is dependent on several properties, including the function they perform for their hosts. (see the Anatomy of a Meme thread)
-The process of transmission mutates ideas. (Jokes, for example, mutate rapidly for survival.)


Our heads -and our culture- are part of the ecosystem in which ideas are born, breed, mutate, and undergo natural selection.

By acting in our own best interests and according to our personal taste, we are slowly refining the set of ideas that comprise our culture.

Our culture is like weather - slowly shaping a slab of rock into, I dunno, a democracy or something.