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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pop Physics... Or otherwise known as aspect or "under certain conditions"

Not knowing where to begin this post, I shall instead pick up from where Dr. John responded to Dink's question on consciousness, namely: "We talk of consciousness when we really have not even agreed on what that means."

For although I have had zero formal linguistic training, and am probably therefore on very shaky ground- still I think it important to remember that an inability to get agreement on this issue should be very little cause for alarm.

For one of the greatest problems inherent in all communication is my old friend grammatical aspect... or sometimes referred to as point of view or frame of references.

I have read that English is apparently a particularly bad language at reminding its users of the inherent problems of aspect/point of view in communication. Not knowing if this is true or not, I will chose to believe it until I learn otherwise. Still I suspect that aspect causes communication errors in any language. It seems so easy to forget the aspect or vector of approach when we communicate, etc...

Further, as I am visual/geometric thinker, and tend to think of all things using geometry as metaphor, and in particular tend to visualize aspect as akin to an incoming/approaching jet airplane attempting to land on a runway. Clearly some angles of approach will lead to safety, others to disaster.

Perhaps the most famous recent example of how aspect is often ignored at our own peril occurred when Bill Clinton correctly made the following famous comment:

Clearly linguists everywhere smiled in ironic acknowledgment as they realized Bill Clinton must have paid very close attention in class. ;-)

Anyway, I say all this as introduction to the subject of consciousness, which I hope we will all explore together in coming posts. I will share with you why I think consciousness is a quantum phenomena of a particular type of scale free network called a Boze-Einstein Condensate and would very much appreciate your thoughts on this matter. I hope you'll also all come to understand my reference to "under certain conditions" in relation to "aspect"; clearly I am no expert on consciousness.

Until next post, be well all.


Thai said...

For comments

Thai said...

I hope it obvious that with an infinite number of viewpoints we can look at something from, it can be very difficult to agree on what we are looking at when we are all looking and talking about this something from different viewpoints.

I tend to use the following visual for my children (you can imagine they make fun of me now for this): my iPhone has a glass side which lights up when I hit the power button and a black metal case on the back with a Apple symbol on it.

If we (meaning me and one of my boys) talks about my iPhone, and I hold it between us, one of us will look at a photo while the other will look at a black case with a apple symbol on it. We both talk of the iPhone, yet we both look at something slightly different.

Depending on what we are talking about, we may or may not therefore get agreement on what we are discussing as neither can see what the other sees.

So two different perspectives on the same thing, both fundamentally different and yet simultaneously both are correct.

Think of aspect as the theory of relativity on a grand macro/lingustic scale. ;-)

Thai said...

One other point I'd like to make. It is my belief that all the other channels we have in normal communication- e.g. body language, physical/situational context, etc... are particularly helpful in establishing issues of aspect in communication.

Sadly written- or blog- communication does not possess these parallel channels of communication and therefore leaves much out. I think this is one of the reasons we see ever more email on a given issue yet ever less communication.

I have pondered how to solve this issue without success to date. Any thoughts you all have on resolving this would be most appreciative.

Dr John said...

Well this is a very interesting post and topic. It is in part a discussion of the use of language and how they translate into ideas in our head and we meld them with what we see in front of us.
Thai's son's are not looking at his iphone as being the front or back or any portion of just what they see.. They are not just looking at a portion of an I phone but looking at it as a representation of a thought inside their own head. After a limited glimpse and agreement on the object under discussion, if they even look at all they know what it is they are talking about. Their pre-existing experiences of looking at and using an iphone.
That's what makes this so interesting. Sometimes what we are "conscious" of is really about what is in front of us and activating rods and cones or maybe not at all.This may vary when we have no pre-existing experience to help shape what is going on in the present.All of this playing out so to speak on a projector in our head.

Thai if in fact "consciousness" is a condensate, I understand it has been postulated this may travel along the microtubules within a cell. Regardless, this would not likely be a physical phenomenon exclusive in anyway to humans.I look forward to a further post.

Thai said...

I cannot see how it is unique to human at all. No possible way.

As I said, I am not anthropomorphic.

In fact the more I have thought on this, the more I have trouble eating certain foods on simply moral grounds.

So I have kind of drawn an arbitrary line in the food chain as it were; if you are as stupid as a cow, I can eat you but if you are smarter, I probably won't (hence no pork).

I have had a hard time classifying non-mammalian intelligence on this same basis and have similarly made an arbitrary distinction that calamari is edible, but octopus is not (way too smart).

... Of course Dink probably has the right idea in simply becoming a vegetarian (I really admire this in him), but in a typical irrational selfish act, I simply love my cheeseburgers way too much to give them up. And while veggie burgers are "OK", they're not the same thing. ;-)

Thai said...

Also, please remember the ongoing argument between Deb and myself which made you laugh: is language real- e.g. part of the physical world? I use the generic term "energy" and say everything is "energy" to make the point that at some level everything is made of the same stuff.

Or is language something separate from the physical world?

I'm very much in the camp that thinks language/thoughts in your head (and I don't just mean the electricity moving around in neurons)/information/communication/etc... is actually made of the very same stuff as neurons, microfilaments, bone, cardboard, steel, etc... but our brain has come to see things which are the same as different.

At some level I'm a "universalist", as Deb would say. While Deb is definitely not a universalist. It's a running argument you'll pick up on from time to time.

... I think Dink is a universalist as well but I shouldn't speak for him and I may be wrong.

Lot's of erector set types are universalitsts, only think they don't really know it.

It would be very hard to reconcile the conservation of energy with not being a universalist. Indeed, I'd love to see someone try.

And I agree with Deb that universalism can be a form of totalitarianism.

It is what it is

Dr John said...

I would say in theory I am a universalist but damn there are a lot of pieces to fill in. I recognize that the law of conservation of energy dictates some things in a closed system.But are there not instances say in General Relativity or an expanding univerese where it may be wrong? Did not Godel say all mathematical models are imperfect, and none ever will be absolute. Maybe this is one of those times? Have you considered we are at this time in need of a science or ability that is not yet at hand to address these complexities or do I over estimate the problem?

Thai said...

I'm sure you're probably right. But as I said before in reference to your work as a psychiatrist- we all need to create something from nothing.

As John Maynard Keynes once said "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" ;-)

Godel's incompleteness theorem tells us "a complete and consistent set of axioms for all of mathematics is impossible".


"If a system is also capable of proving certain basic facts about nature, then one truth the system cannot prove is the consistency of the system itself.

So all my ideas must be wrong at some level. I completely cede this point.

Debra said...

Hey, Thai, I reread your link to your blog, and that really EXCELLENT post you wrote to observe that my... POINT OF VIEW on it had changed since the last time I read it...
What you call "constants", I could call "hypotheses" or even.. "prejudices".
Keeping an open mind means QUESTIONING constants as much as possible. One's own constants, of course, but also.. the constants of other people as they are presented and perceived.
One of the "constants" that I have the MOST trouble with is comparing living animals to dead computers... A metaphor I dislike intensely.
Translate what YOU'RE talking about in the blog to what I do.... walk down the street in the middle of the crowd and say to myself that all of these people are unique (unique genetic material, right ?), that they have their own lives, their own thoughts, their own personal individual history, and especially their own UNIQUE relationship to the language that constitutes them, that gives them... presence in the world for themselves, and others.
On the question of aspect...
I have an incredible advantage over many people, outside of the fact of having studied linguistics IN THIS DOMAIN...
I am totally bilingual.This does things to the projector.
It means that TRANSLATION is a big part of my world. (Not always, because when you are IN one linguistic world, you more or less shut out ANOTHER linguistic world, because they are two different ways of looking at the world, and organizing it. But I LIKE translation a lot. It means... training the projector on those grey masses where language does not mesh. Where the language that creates what we call "reality" creates a ... DIFFERENT reality, from language to language.)
My turn to gripe about the Wiki article.
It is.... UNBELIEVABLY GENERALIST. So generalist that it is like trying to find molecules with no microscope...
Your last sentence Thai...
Can you demonstrate or verify the validity of any hypothesis FROM WITHIN THE SYSTEM?
A big problem. What in the shrink world we call "auto referential".
Which brings up the incredibly thorny problem of WHO/WHAT guarantees the truth of what we discover ?
A bigger problem..
When we come back to structural linguistics, I will have you observe how language BY ITS VERY NATURE creates the illusion that we are talking about the same thing.
The glass half full, the glass half empty.
When we talk, we are indulging ourselves in the illusion that we have a shared reality which is manifest in our consensual agreement on the words themselves.
At a certain level, we always come back to MY FRACTAL VISION :
Our attitude towards ILLUSION.
If we take the "moral" high ground on it, we destroy what founds community.
Get rid of illusion, and... what do we have left ?
What ARE WE without our illusion ?
Back to Plato again... The eternal truth/lie issue over the question of fiction...

Thai said...

Re: "What you call "constants", I could call "hypotheses" or even "prejudices".

Thanks for helping translate from Deb language to erector set language.

I'll try to keep this in mind as I read you.

Remember, most people think of constant as constant. That is why they are constant. It is very hard to realize for most of us that a constant in not a constant but instead a hypothesis or prejudice.

Prejudice is a bit closer to constant than hypothesis but both words have additional meaning I am not intending.

Thai said...

Dr. John, re: investing

Another blogger forwarded me the following link from David Rosenberg which I signed up for and now comes to my email in-box daily. I don't actually read the daily pdfs very often, but when I do occasionally read them, I'm always very impressed.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested as an FYI.

Be well

Thai said...

Deb re: "Can you demonstrate or verify the validity of any hypothesis FROM WITHIN THE SYSTEM?
A big problem. What in the shrink world we call "auto referential"."

From within it, no however the funky paradox is we are both simultaneously within and without the system at the same time. I see the boundary condition you are creating, but we know it never the less must be be broken all the time since person A insulting person B will cause person B to react and a neutral observer, in the form of person C, will see it all happen.

A may be trapped in their own head but at the same time B is still getting into A's head and A is getting into B's head in a vice versa fashion that C can clearly witness. So the self referential problem you are pointing out is true AND it is still being broken at some level by the ability of us to step out of the system, even if logic has a hard time figuring out how this exactly happens.

As I say over and over, "it is both"

We are both particles and we are waves, it is in the very nature of what energy is. We do not understand how this is so, yet it appears to be so.

Go back and look at the video again, energy is both a particle and a wave simultaneously and it simply depends on how you look at it (or aspect, or point of view, or frame of reference, etc...)

It is what it is

Debra said...

The part about being a wave and a particle at the same time ?
That is what we call the FUNCTION of metaphor in Lacanian psychoanalytic theory.
WHAT HOLDS IT TOGETHER so that it is wave and particle at the same time.
And.. on different levels of course...
Which brings me back to why it is not.. zero SUMS.
(Yeah, I'm obstinate, right ??)
On the subject of insult..
I find on my loony forum that we are quick to see insult EVERYWHERE.
Because we are looking for insult everywhere.
Because we have rather... thin skins, if you like.
Geez.. memories, memories..
I remember the day that I sat in on a big hooha for French psychoanalysts from two different.. ASPECTS, should I say ??
I particularly remember one guy at the tribune, dressed in a four piece suit saying "but you fucking idiot (I am exaggerating a little but hardly...) you don't know a flying fuck about Lacan."
(Yeah, I laugh when people put these words in code, as though the words were.. MAGIC or something... yes well, to me there are magic words, but NOT THESE ONES).
I was blown away at the atmosphere.
I remember pursing my oh so American puritan lips together in disapproval...
No critical thought (and no, Wiki does NOT count for critical thought...).
I miss those knock down drag outs when people (and language..) were still alive...

Dr John said...

Sometimes we get so tied up with the semantics of language it paralyzes us from getting anywhere. I do not like this postmodern impotence. Language is never perfect but at some point we need to agree and move on to make any progress. I play the piano too. One of the first material objects I purchase when I got a job was a 6ft Steinway grand. It's not helping me with this. Thai thanks for the link to David Rosenberg. I love to read what others have to say and will do so. Lets get back to the original post as I am dying to learn more about B-E condensates as they relate to my actually knowing I am thinking of the ephemeral stuff that is allowing me to think on its existence which is circular and bizarre.

Debra said...

I'm not going to help you on the B-E condensates.
I never studied physics.
What do you play on the piano ?
Is that a baby grand ?
I just bought a new piano...
I spend three hours a day working on it...
I'll stick down a post on WHAT PLAYING THE PIANO IS GOOD FOR...
I play classical. I am FINALLY getting to the point where I am going to be able to play a Beethoven sonata VERY WELL.
That's the Rolls Royce of piano playing for me, at least. The Tempest. It is butt work getting up to parr, but very very rewarding.
NOT.. the Hammerklavier, but.. then I would never WANT to play the Hammerklavier either...
Chopin remains my first love, though.
Although Mozart is DEFINITELY growing on me...

Dink said...

I feel like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland....I'm late! I'm late!!

I'm behind, but I wanted to post something about roles, evo purpose of culture, identity, belief systems.

But I have no time! Maddening!!

I will say that I made it through a third of The Instance of the Fingerpost this weekend and I'm completely hooked.

I will also post this because I love the no-barrier aspect of the internet and mad scientists.

I will catch up someday...

Dr John said...

My Steinway is a 6ft grand. It is a model O made in 1923. It has been restrung, refinished and I have had new hammers put in. It is a lovely instrument. I used to play a lot of classical. Bach's Arioso has always been a favorite.Mostly I play jazz. I love Bill Evans. Buy and listen to Keith Jarrett "The Melody at Night, With You". It is the most gorgeous solo piano music I have ever heard. I also love the music of Pat Metheny and have his collective works which I am trying to learn a few pieces. I used to be pretty good and contemplated the study of music in college. My father who I love dearly and who is my hero said son"it is better to be a well paid amateur than a poor professional" so I studied pre-med. I do not play as much as I should which is not good.

Debra said...

Mad scientists or... scientists who don't know that they are high priests ??
I like "The Theory of Everything or Final Theory". Capitals please. Like in ... God.
And "scientific renaissance and reformation".
Love those words.. Follow them like.. rabbits.

I agree about the amateur musician.
I have a friend who is an even weirder guy than I, but he is very very interesting.
He says that when I play the piano three hours a day, I am playing for Jesus, even if I'm not playing for an audience.
I kind of like that idea. I occasionally feel like I'm playing for my departed mother who used to gripe that I never finished anything...
It has taken me until recently to REALIZE how much WORK, determination, concentration I need to do daily to progress towards my goal of making beautiful music.
I listened to Keith Jarrett years ago. The Köln concert. I liked it.
Guess what ?? I too, contemplated studying piano in college, and ALMOST went to Oberlin College.
But I had too many INHIBITIONS to do well at piano, and no really talented teacher to get me out of them.
NOW the inhibitions are going out the door.

Debra said...

For the record...
I am not AGAINST erector sets. Nor erector set minds.
But I DO APPRECIATE IT when people try to translate what they're saying so that I can understand.
That's all folks...

Thai said...

Am I translating adequately or not?

I do try

Thai said...

It is a great book, no?

I keep trying to enjoy Quicksilver- I took it on my trip and opened it twice, honest- but I can't seem to generate the enthusiasm you have for the book. I'm 100 pages in and I'll keep trying. :-(

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