Friday, 31 May 2019

Protopanpsychism: A Brief Excursus

(excursus as in ramble)
It is perfectly possible that David Chalmers was being ironic when he said: I do not think it is strictly accurate to say that rocks (for example) have experiences. He might have used the technical term panprotopsychism which in its own way moves us no further forward. We are in effect spinning our wheels. Or are we? Is Chalmers going the transcendental route or offering a theory of how things must fundamentally be for things to appear as they do. Putting the argument in the manner of the philosopher on the next bar stool – We all got here from rocks and gas. The disjunction between mind and matter cannot be transcended, extended/non-extended, blah waffle blah. The human mind that emerged or evolved must have been somehow there in a prototypical way.

There is the problem of radical analogy, when we talk up to God and down to rocks. The mind of God and the mind of rocks. Staying with the mind of rocks for now, a concept that can connect human minds and rocks is that of information. Different forms of matter impinge on and change each other. They inform each other. There is a rhythmic consistency of interaction or nature. At what point can information become information for itself or memory? Squirrels remember where they put their nuts, dogs remember where they buried bones and I can’t remember where I left my keys. This can’t or the framing of a proposition and then negating it, is particular to the human mind, in the waking state that is. In dream we have to change the drama in order to negate. Suddenly a situation doesn’t exist and we emerge into one that expresses its negation. This may be the sort of consciousness that preceded our present state of evolution. Could certain forms of psychosis be a reversion?

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Get Out on Netflix

I don’t keep up so I missed the accolades for Get Out now on Netflix. I’m not going to say a word about it so that there may be others who get the delightful surprise. When a situation is very miserable describing it in close detail can overwhelm the impulse of sympathy. Satire is more effective. By inversion or inhabiting the mind that we wish to swinge it is possible to show its cruelty.

Somehow in my reading I find that the French Revolution has become a focus. I hop from The French Revolution by Thomas Carlyle, Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke and A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel. Mantel suffers by propinquity with the masters of cadence but worse still I am not getting sense of how Danton, Desmoulins and Robespierre became such blood boltered scoundrels. Where’s the foundation in everyday evil? She’s not a very good writer and the grouting of domestic detail indicates this gap. Liberals lack a sense of evil.

Which reminds me that 15 years later (1804) the ‘ternaire sacre’ became Liberty, Equality and Property in relation to Haiti where the new republic had to indemnify the slave owners for their loss. This amounted to 40 billion dollars (2010 calculation) and was not paid until 1947. cf. indemnity

The chains were gold Jean-Jacques: each link a gold franc.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Irish Abortion Duck/Rabbit

Human beings have a secret power. It’s called consciousness. A salient feature of consciousness is the capacity to live in the present, past and future all at the same time and to hold as simultaneously true contradictory thoughts. The couple that received the bad news about a fatal foetal condition, trisomy, decided to abort. Later there was an autopsy and OMG the test was wrong. A perfectly healthy baby, much desired, was gone. As Elizabeth Harman might hold: at one point the entity was not a moral unit or one we owe a duty of care to and then later it is: retrospectively so to speak.


Interestingly the Advaitins hold that sat being/truth is that which is uncontradicted in all three moments of time – the past, present and future. The notion that how we regard a subsistent reality changes its nature is a subversion of common sense that only philosophers are capable of. What was betrayed was the closest physical relationship, that between the mother and the unborn and also the future closest personal relationship between parents and child. The latter is courtesy of the power of consciousness. The P.N.C. (principle of non-contradiction) was also a casualty.

Oh well most bio-ethicists agree that abortion is licit. Like the hair product ad, they are worth it. What do the Buddhists think? If the foetus is a non-self/non-person then it’s o.k. but then ambulant persons are non-selfs/persons too. Hmmm.

The arguments for abortion are not getting better are they?

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Advaita Travel Agency

In the Taittiriya Upanishad commentary Shankara mentions this element of the achievements of the liberated soul in the conditioned realm of Brahman:

(Remaining established in his own nature, he moves on enjoying happiness) in the company of women or with vehicles. (from Chandogya Up. VIII.xii.3)(

This is the claim of the opponent to the advaitin view of the realisation of the unconditioned Brahman. How very like to the ideals promoted in television car ads. Shankara of course dismisses this limited view:

Women and others can exist only in the conditioned Brahman but not in the unconditioned, according to such Vedic texts as: “One only without a second” (Ch.Up.VI.ii.1)….

A few paragraphs before that Shankara deprecates the need for any sort of metaphysical transport or vehicle.

And hence liberation is not an achievable result. A traveller has to reach a place which is different from himself. Not that the very place that is non-different from oneself can be reached by oneself. And this follows from the well-known fact of identity of Vedic and Smrti texts such as “Having created it (the world) , He entered into it” (, “Know the individual soul also to be myself”(Gita. XIII.2)

Where are you off to?

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Last Post from Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford : Sylvia Tietjens on being cut

One of my more popular posts is on the passage in A Moveable Feast in which Hemingway traduces Ford Madox Ford:
Hem and Fordie
Ford had committed the unpardonable sin of helping Hemingway by publishing him in the influential Transatlantic Review which he, Ford, edited. At that time his stories were rejected elsewhere.

The section in ‘Feast’ is a disquisition on cutting. Whom might a gentleman cut? A gentleman will always cut a cad etc.

When one analyses Ford’s work it is clear that Hem is being wound up like a long case clock. cf. post supra: In the Last Post(from the tetralogy Parade’s End) the fear of Sylvia Tietjens is that she will be cut by her estranged husband Christopher.

That she had hitherto never dared. From a social point of view it would have been outrageous, but she was prepared to chance that. She was sure enough of her place in Society, and if people will excuse a man’s leaving his wife, they will excuse the wife’s making at least one or two demonstrations that are a bit thick. But she had simply not dared to meet Christopher: he might cut her.
Perhaps he would not. He was a gentleman and gentlemen do not actually cut women with whom they have slept. . . . But he might. . . . She might go down there, and in a dim, low room be making some sort of stipulation — God knew what, the first that came into her head — to Valentine. You can always make up some sort of reason for approaching the woman who has supplanted you. But he might come in, mooning in, and suddenly stiffen into a great, clumsy — oh, adorable — face of stone.
That was what you would not dare to face. That would be death. She could imagine him going out of the room, rolling his shoulders. Leaving the whole establishment indifferently to her,
— closing only himself in invisible bonds — denied to her by the angel with the flaming sword! . . . That was what he would do. And that before the other woman. He had come once very near it, and she had hardly recovered from it.

Last Post available on Adelaide:
Last Post

Friday, 17 May 2019

Advaita Vedanta: An Introduction by Arvind Sharma

Advaita Vedanta and its chief interpretor Adi Shankaracarya (9th. Century) are in the curious position of being studiously ignored by Western philosophers probably because of the avowed soteriological intent which is contrary to the general agnostic sentiment of professional philosophy. Academic teachers of Eastern philosophy are content to paddle in the shallow waters of logic and epistemology. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

It’s no surprise then that it falls to Arvind Sharma a professor of Comparitive Religion to publish a short introduction to Advaita Vedanta - Advaita Vedanta: An Introduction pub.2004 by the Indian publisher Motilal Banarsidas and from the Wikipedia bibliography it appears to be the only book of his published by an Indian company. In the full bibliographyof 860 titles, there may be more. Is the imprint an indication of the target audience? Possibly. The book is predicated on an assumption of total ignorance of the subject so in a short 78 page booklet we may barely get into second gear nevertheless his breakdown into four sections of Introduction followed by the Scriptural, Rational and Experiential aspects of Advaita Vedanta with an extensive bibliography, is a good introduction. Within the book he makes extensive use of M. Hiriyanna’s Outlines of Indian Philosophy, a useful book published in 1932 which goes into the interplay between the different schools. have many copies of his lucid expostion.

Worth a look I think.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Source of Advaitin Locution Faith Pending Realization

Recollect my observations on the common advaitin locution ‘faith pending realization’:
faith pending realizantion

I believe I have found the source of this snappy summary:

It is clear that the concept of faith itself also carries very different connotations in the schools which accept jivanmukti, compared with those of the West. In schools which accept jivanmukti, faith is understood as faith pending realization - it denotes the trust one must have in order to undertake an experiment, but the outcome of the experiment is independent of such faith. It is even possible that the revealed results might contribute towards strengthening faith, just as one's faith in science is strengthened when one experimentally discovers that water is made of two gases.
(from Advaita Vedanta: an Introduction by Arvind Sharma pub.2004)

Maybe Professor Sharma found it elsewhere. However my strictures still stand and are even augmented by his “but the outcome of the experiment is independent of such faith”. This makes faith sound like a ‘no risks, get your money back at any time’ scheme.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Possible Evidence and Evidently Possible (B.S.B. II.i.28 on Vijnanavada))

Should the existence or non-existence of a thing depend on the possibility or impossibility of the evidence for that thing? If we accept that view, the road to the ontological argument lies open and inevitable. Should we rather not hold that the possibility or impossibility of a thing is decided on the basis of being able to apply the means of knowledge to it. What can be perceived is evidently possible. This would include cloud chamber data and so forth. However, in this case the contrary to the possible is not the impossible but the theoretical for which we have as yet not devised empirical means of gaining evidence for.

Is idealism the chasm between the object and its evidence?

Monday, 6 May 2019

Pareto upgrades

Pareto: You are pleased to mock my devotion to the Angora cat.

Om: No Dottore, I am following your indication of the error in looking at data through fanciful anthropological theory. From a 1000 year perspective I could hold that the cat is your totem, your spirit animal. You have an affinity for the animal that is substitutive, participative and therefore more than symbolic. Being the cat allows its powers to be manifest in you. Independent yet responsive but not immediately so, a cat seems to consider – do I care enough? Now of course all of that animal is sacred and its products are talismanic, like the milk of the sacred cow is so pure and powerful that its products may be shared by all without pollution. The jumper knit from the sacred cat yarn deflects, protects, enhances and is warm and lightweight.

Pareto: Unfortunately the vibrations from the Society for the Suppression of Vice have a moth-like power which diminishes the efficacy of the garment. A distressing fact, but what to do?

Om: So we must upgrade to a new derivation in line with present scientific knowledge. May I recommend a vial of heavy water?

Pareto: Only if blessed by Einstein.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Pareto's Trattato and the Cats of the Villa Angora

Even your brother-in-law knows about the 80/20 rule. That’s Pareto. What else is there to know? A lot and then again fundamentally not very much. The insidious thought that strikes - is this man nought but a montimbanco, a shouty village explainer? The best book is in the footnotes of The Mind and Society where he gives examples from the classics of his mysterious residues. There they are but he never really asks what is the nature of human consciousness such that derivations of that same residue should recur under different forms throughout history. The writhings of the shaman, the sportive lashes of the luperci and phenomena of the Welsh Revival are taken to arise out of the same irrational source. To take these manifestations as evidence of a noumenal structure is of no interest to the materialist, positivist, scientistic mind of Pareto. They are simply evidence of the continually morphing derivative that has taken on new habiliments. First principles are a matter for metaphysics which is bunk and a form of theology for the intelligentsia.

He wrote his Trattato Di Sociologia Generale (The Mind and Society trans. in 3 Vols.) from 1907 to 1912 pub.1916. He could have said what he had to say in one book; get out sharply, and gather the shed hair of his 16 (?) Angora cats to spin into yarn with which he might knit a jumper, a shield to repel the emanations of the Society for the Prevention of Vice to whom he frequently refers as the bearers of evil sentiment.

I’m enjoying this book, well 20% of it 80% of the time.