Spencer-Brown: Cataphatist

George Spencer-Brown (GSB) did some wonderful work for a system of logic that has us consistently painting ourselves into a corner. That’s the problem. His work contributes to a system of reasoning that is consistent but incomplete.
What he doesn’t see (and few who I’ve encountered who understand his work) is that he is stuck within a cataphatic mode of thought. When he says “Let us take the form of distinction for the form.” he effectively merges the boundary between things with one of the spaces that boundary ‘encloses’.
So he takes ‘the mark’ as being indicative of what it encloses. This is wrong – or maybe it’s better that I say it’s ‘too eager’. Continue reading “Spencer-Brown: Cataphatist”

“ALL Reality is Transformation” – A Review

Reality:

It may seem absurd that I see Reality (indeed, all Reality, hence the capital ‘R’) as being ‘made of’ Transformations. I am the first to admit it because this is my view almost despite myself – “I would it weren’t so”. In fact, it’s this very discomfort, this very dismay that motivates me to review each reason, carefully, once more.

While it may seem reasonable that, in seeking something which can both be ‘Sameness’ and ‘Difference’, I choose Transformation as the definitive candidate, it nevertheless seems difficult to grasp how that might come to be, in the real physical realm.
Continue reading ““ALL Reality is Transformation” – A Review”

The Deep Symbolism of the Mobius Strip

The Mobius Strip

If ever there was something which merited the name “God” in my eyes, it would be the Mobius Strip. But I don’t believe in a personal, let-alone sentient, god. I’d be far more inclined to call it “Tao” instead. Buddhists might call it “Om” (or “Aum”). Mathematicians should call it “i” (the square root of negative one), but there are even more examples in Mathematics (the involution, the half-rotation, inconsistency, contradiction, “not” or the symbol ¬). Electronics circuits represent it as the inverter whose ouput feeds back into its input. Philosophers might call it “contradiction” or more formally the “paradox of self-reference” epitomized in the Liar Paradox:

“This statement is False.”
Continue reading “The Deep Symbolism of the Mobius Strip”

One Life…

Excerpt from this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU0PYcCsL6o

“So then, let’s suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream you wanted to dream. And that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time, or any length of time you wanted to have. And you would naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes, you would have every kind of pleasure you could perceive. And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each you would say, “Well that was pretty great, but now let’s have a surprise! Lets have a dream which isn’t under control! Where something is going to happen to me that I don’t know what it’s gonna be”. And you would dig that and come out of that and say, “Wow that was a close shave wasn’t it!”.

Then you would get more and more adventurous and you would make further and further-out gambles as to what you would dream. And finally you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today; that would be within the infinite multiplicity of choices you would have, of playing that you weren’t god. Because the whole nature of the god head, according to this idea, is to play that he’s not. So in this idea then, everybody is fundamentally the ultimate reality. Not god in a politically kingly sense but god in the sense of being the self; the deep down basic whatever there is. And you’re all that! Only you’re pretending you’re not.”

I find this concept compelling – not the part of us being the ultimate reality (because I don’t agree) – but for the core concept of boredom. Changing Alan Watts’s version for one, not of dreams, but of immortality or reincarnation (not that different), you would have to agree that, given a vast amount of years to live (or lives), you would eventually get bored. The ‘risks’ you would take would be greater and greater, to the point where you would embark upon a ‘life’ from which you could not wake up – one where the end is definitive. That is the ultimate thrill. Death is obsessively fascinating!

Many people find the idea that we have but this one life absolutely terrifying. This is why there are so many invented stories of an afterlife or reincarnation or something more. Even buddhists and zen masters can’t find peace in this and have had to invent stories of Sacred Wheels and Nirvana and enlightenment (or are these inventions only for those who aren’t ready for the truth yet?).

Given the above, I don’t understand why so many people need something more. The above thought-experiment makes it seem to me perfectly reasonable to have but one life and be grateful that we do. I personally am relieved that I have but one. Sure, I’m also terrified! But I don’t need anything more. I feel sadness for all my past mistakes, immense sadness that I’ve caused so much pain to loved-ones through my own mistakes – but it’s not because I think “After I die I will be no more” that I don’t care. I am acutely aware that my own life has had millions upon millions of repercussions to the world around me – the one that will survive me – and it is my participation in the advancement of Life on this planet that makes me so remorseful of my mistakes.

But because I have but one life, I will not waste it commiserating that fact. I will enjoy it, experience it, live it. This harkens back to the pithy aphorism (not sure if it is Buddhist): “The journey is the destination.”

So much purpose can be derived from this truth – not least of them is that, given the intrinsic and unique value of the journey, it is my responisibility to make everyone else’s journey as free from suffering as possible – or at the very least I must not be the cause of their journey’s end (i.e. murder = BAD!). Another purpose that can be derived from this truth is to assure the harmonious perennity of Humanity as a whole – to maintain balance and harmony so that Humanity’s journey persists (Humanity’s duration far out-lasting an individual life). From there I realize it is my responsibility to keep our planet clean and hospitable to human life – or encourage our governments to pull together and start our great migration towards other planets. Humanity must continue and spread, in harmony with all other life.

I am born with a gift of compassion and love and it is my responsibility to use that gift within the tiny duration of my own life to assist the lives of others, and keep us all moving forward. Pretty simple reasoning isn’t it? That is why I think that consciously choosing to believe that there is no afterlife (whether or not it ultimately is true) is important and the mature thing to do. It’s bloody difficult, but you know what they say about worthwhile things being difficult…

Reflections on Reflections: “IS”, not “IS NOT”

“Not” is about the only way I can think of expressing the concept of a zero-dimensional Reflection. By ‘Reflection’ I mean opposite, except that in zero-D, there is no position – maybe ‘inversion’ is more appropriate? In Zero-D, something either IS, or IS NOT. But if you think about it a little further, you’ll see that “IS” can be constructed from two “NOT”s – just like the bistable flip-flop in electronics. So “IS NOT” is actually three “NOT”s in a loop – which can be reduced to one “NOT” with its input tied to its output. This is the final, self-inverting, supremely astable paradoxical “Strange Loop”.

Continue reading “Reflections on Reflections: “IS”, not “IS NOT””

A Breakthrough?

If you’ve read along this far, you’ll have noticed how mercurial these matters can be. And, like mercury, madness isn’t that far away…

Well, I feel like I’ve hit something with such resonating truth, such obvious obviousness, that I know this is it! Now, to extract it while avoiding insanity is the hardest part – I don’t want to get high on my own fumes, so to speak. If, at any point, you feel like I’ve strayed into crazy-town, please, please let me know where you think that fork in the path lies – where did I begin to talk nonsense?

OK, let’s get started:

Continue reading “A Breakthrough?”

Atomic Loops

Atoms are the building blocks of this physical reality, and, by definition, Scientists should have, upon discovery of quarks, gluons and other ‘sub-atomic particles’, redefined those to be called Atoms, and so on as our knowledge gets refined – each time moving back ‘Atom’ to its rightful place.

In the Lisp programming language, things also called Atoms are defined. They are the ‘base unit’ of things upon which Lisp programs operate. The Atom is a Symbol. On that level, the number one “1”, is a symbol, and thus an Atom in Lisp – on par with the symbols foo, bar, bas, or any letter combination (or number combination, or letter-number combination for that matter).

This view breaks things down into two ‘sides’: Things – ‘Atoms’ – and operations – doing stuff to things. Atoms and Actions. (This, note, is very close to Patrick Jeanneret’s idea).

I’d been racking my brains trying to figure out how one could possibly define a boundary around a ‘bit of Wu’ in order to make it ‘ex-sist’, to make it stand out from everything else. How could one possibly establish that a bit of something is somehow different from Everything-else – which, after all, is ‘made from the same stuff as’ the bit you’re trying to distinguish?

But now, tentatively, it occurs to me as I write this (yes, the act of writing is my process of thinking), that the strange yin-yang-ness of physical reality (how I’d considered ‘us’ as being of ‘yin’ – arbitrarily – and that it somehow meant that there was a whole lot of ‘yang’ left-over that together made ‘Wu’) works out:

If ‘stuff’ is ‘yin’, then the boundary that separates it from ‘Wu’ (if I can even say such a thing) is ‘yang’, (I feel like yelling “Duh!!” at myself – obviously!) and that ‘yang’ is action, or “operations on ‘yin'”.

Then one has to ask: “If ‘yin’ is stuff, and ‘yang’ is action – and you’ve previously said that yin-stuff is just bits-of-Wu, then could it not just as validly be argued that yang-stuff is actually bits-of-Wu, and then that ‘yin’ is the boundary between yang-stuff? After all, you’ve well established that Wu is both yin and yang – that they arise out of Wu.”

And so the strange loop has undone me. Once again. Dammit.

So, what could possibly have both stuff-ness and do-ness at the same time? What do they both share?

A quick and lazy answer might be “They’re both Real – they are both aspects of Reality”.

But you have to stop at that answer. Reality just is, like Wu just is (on condition that I’m using ‘is’ in some sense greater than ex-sistence).

Playfully, I’m tempted to use the French expression “la boucle a été bouclée” – the loop has been looped. Which, quite beautifully, represents the very Wu-yin-yang problem I’ve been struggling with just now: A loop – a thing – has been looped – an action – which, both being the same set of symbols – L, O, and P – are both verb and object – Wu – a strange loop. Oh the joy! I’m actually chuckling to myself as I write this. The people around me must think I’m loopy!