Author Topic: The Spirit World of Ideas  (Read 3868 times)

Cramulus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2012, 01:08:06 am »
Lately I've been wondering if 'meaning' is something that's out there in the universe, or it's something that's generated by our brains. I figured: our experiences in this world are wildly subjective, we interpret our experiences through a cultural filter, the "meaning" of something (whatever it may be) is something we assemble out of our past experiences, cultural references, understanding of the universe, etc etc-- but it's US making it, WE actively create the meaning, no?

Well here's another view


Hofstadter writes: (GEB p-3)
(and please excuse typos)
Quote
There are still quite a few philosophers, scientists and so forth who believe that patterns of symbols per se (such as books or movies or libraries or CD-ROM's or computer programs, no matter how complex or dynamic) never have meaning on their own, but that meaning instead, in some most mysterious manner, springs only from the organic chemistry, or perhaps the quantum mechanics, of processes that take place in carbon-based biological brains. Although I have no patience with this parochial, bio-chauvinistic view, I nonetheless have a pretty clear sense of its intuitive appeal. Trying to don the hat of a believer in the primacy, indeed the uniqueness, of grains, I can see where such people are coming from.

Such people feel that some kind of "semantic magic" takes place only inside our "teetering bulbs", somewhere behind pairs of eyeballs, even though they can never quite put their finger on how or why this is so; moreover, they believe that this semantic magic is what is responible for the existence of human selves, soulds, consciousness, "I"s. And I, as a matter of fact, quite agree with such thinkers that selves and sematnics -- in other words, that me's and meanings --DO spring forth from one and the same source; where I take issue with these people is over their contention that such phenomena are due entirely to some special, though as yet undiscovered, properties of the microscopic hardware of brains

As I see it, the only way of overcoming this magical view of what "I" and consciousness are is to keep on reminding oneself, unpleasant though it may seem, that the "teetering bulb of dread and dream" that nestles safely inside one's own cranium is a purely physical object made up of completely sterile and inanimate components, all of which obey the exact same laws as those that govern the rest of the universe, such as pieces of text, or CD-ROM's, or computers. Only if one keeps on bashing up against this disturbing fact can one slowly begin to develop a feel for the way out of the mystery of consciousness: that the key is not the STUFF out of which brains are made, but the PATTERNS that can come to exist inside the stuff of a brain.

This is a liberating shift, because it allows one to move to a different level of considering what brains are: as MEDIA that support complex patterns that mirror, albeit far from perfectly, the world, of which, needless to say, those brains are themselves denizens -- and it is in the inevitable self-mirroring that arises, however impartial or imperfect it may be, that the strange loops of consciousness start to swirl


Wolfgang Absolutus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2012, 01:18:59 am »
If we accepted the kind of materialism Hof is suggesting wouldn't it still be consistent to say that meaning comes from within, not without? If there are no people around there aren't any value judgements.
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Telarus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2012, 07:15:48 am »
It's not that complicated. Meaning requires 3 things (because all "patterns" are 3-root based.. i.e. you can't call it a pattern until it repeats 3+ times).

Pattern, Context, Interpreter-state.


Leave any out and the Meaning collapses. An interpreter can mean a machine, or other tool of the mind.

Also, some interesting reading over here (lends weight that the body serves as the default Context... notice how that collapses the two theories presented in paragraph 3):
 http://io9.com/5883554/metaphors-actually-trigger-the-sensory-parts-of-our-brains

And I've collected a bunch of Charles Tart writing and am slowing working through them.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2012, 07:45:48 am by Telarus »
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Cramulus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2012, 02:17:30 pm »
at your leisure, please hit us with a highlights thread! I really dig Charles Tart's writing.


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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2012, 09:45:59 pm »
Lately I've been wondering if 'meaning' is something that's out there in the universe, or it's something that's generated by our brains.

I once started thinking about that (somehow, reading some part of Dion Fortune's Mystical Qabalah triggered it, I forget why or how).

I came up with the idea, a bit HHGTTG-esque, of a sofa floating in deep space. Regular deep space as we know it, the kind where there's no humans or intelligent life around for thousands of lightyears.

With no intelligence being around, this sofa is essentially just a weirdly-shaped clump of atoms. The whole "you can sit on it" meaning is for all intents and purposes not present.

There are indeed some Hofstadterish ways around this, if you're being real clever, you can encode the meaning in the object or message. Or at least, it really seems like you could do that. It's a bit hard to say if it were "true". But it requires all sorts of Goedel-y tricks and math, which *most* things we deal with in our lives, that we ascribe meaning to, do not employ.

So maybe it is possible to have "static" meaning without an intelligence generating it (MAYBE, because it's not really a clear cut argument). HOWEVER, it seems that MOST meaning around us, is generated in our brains and is not embedded in a real way. Like the sofa in my example.
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Cramulus

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2017, 04:49:41 pm »
BUMP

For years, I've been trying to find the most most parsimonious way of expressing the idea at the top of this thread.


something that comes to mind



think about the life cycle of a joke, in terms of natural selection

---it starts as an amusing thought
---somebody shares it verbally and people laugh. The laughter is a reward to the person who spake it, it makes it more likely for the joke to be shared
---maybe one of the people who hears the joke has a better way to phrase it - this version of the joke has a reproductive advantage over the base form

---jokes get better at reproducing (read: funner) using the same iterative process as Darwin described.
---Like a species of animal, jokes adapt to changes in their environment (for example, anti-Trump jokes have certain reproductive advantages right now)
---The dynamic human mind is the space in which the "genetic code" of a joke mutates, gaining different properties and likelihood of reproduction
---Notice that when we talk about the "reproductive cycle of a joke", the human is the environment that the joke lives in. Like a tree whose fruits fall to the ground, fruits/jokes with certain properties are more likely to be eaten by animals and pooped out somewhere else.


« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 04:57:25 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: The Spirit World of Ideas
« Reply #36 on: August 28, 2017, 03:07:11 am »
I don't know if anyone here has read The Wild Kingdom by Kevin Huizenga, but that book rocks. I'll paste the introduction, which is relevant, if anyone's interested.
blah blah blah the rest of the song