Free – why science hasn’t disproved free will

It’s a short book by Alfred Mele, a Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. Mele was the director of the Big Questions in Free Will Project (2010-2013) and has authored several books and a large amount of articles on the subject.

Mele tackles the main scientific studies proclaiming that free will is an illusion. He takes them down, one by one, showing that they all suffer from several logical fallacies. But they have one fallacy in common, the Black Swan fallacy. That you have only seen white swans does not rule out the existence of black swans. That scientific experiments have not proven the existence of an agent of free will does not preclude the existence of free will. Some experiments doesn’t even look in the right places.

It’s an important book on the subject.

I take another route in my exploration of free will – a more principled approach if you will. And lately, I have revisited my “proof against determinism” and focused more on Alan Turing’s work. Looking at the Universe itself as one great computational device, Turing’s proof of the “halting problem” shows that there cannot be a Theory of Everything – there cannot be any all encompassing theory that will show everything as true or false. This is of course in line with Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems, but it seems to be a more direct route in proving that the universe cannot be deterministic. Which in turn leaves existence open for free will.

96 thoughts on “Free – why science hasn’t disproved free will

  1. Years pass and I miss my daily visitations, communion, and writing on your blog. Is my craving for interaction with you subject to my free will? – Yes. I can write or not write. But can I want or not want to?

  2. Interesting question Chris. How do you know you are wanting to?

    PART 1:

    The one thing about free will we all tend to assume is that it is CONSCIOUS and LUCID.

    But is it? And is an Enlightened Free Will actually enlightenment?

    Gudo Nishijima, a Soto Zen teacher, is famous for the phrase “You cannot notice your own enlightenment”. In other words, you cannot be conscious and lucid about your own enlightenment.

    So, if you THINK you are, and you SEE that you are, according to Nishijima, you AREN’T.

    But as a Dogen disciple, he believes that Zazen IS enlightenment and in that practice one drops body and mind as a decision, and that act IS enlightenment itself, and thus enlightenment is something one DOES but … never .. can … fucking … SEE.

    So, is a free-willed, enlightened Consciousness aware of itself as an ego?

    According to Zen … NO.

    Or … as they say in Japanese … “MU!”

    ****

    PART 2:

    In Renzai Zen the most common koan is “Mu.”

    QUESTION: “Teacher, does a dog have a Buddha nature?”
    TEACHER: “Mu” (TRANSLATION “No” thus making a doctrinal paradox as all beings have a Buddha nature)

    Now, in some schools, the student meditates on “Mu” until “Mu” becomes an unconscious intuition that acts independently of the ego that manifests choices … without thought.

    “Mu” is the non-self (Buddha nature) acting perfectly without ego or words.

    Same notion, the enlightened existence doesn’t notice itself, but acts and chooses freely.

    ****

    PART 3.

    So, if the enlightened self acts (sans ego and self awareness) and then manifests the ego as an afterthought that falsely THINKS it is the one choosing when it is actually “Mu” that is choosing and the ego is just BELIEVING it is actually doing the work, then what is the purpose of the ego?

    To a Buddhist, it is to be dropped away and forgotten as much as possible, and life is to be lived naturally without thinking about all this bullshit.

    ****

    PART 4.

    To some, the ideal enlightenment is to get the Ego to manifest as free will as the prime mover and get the non-self to obey the Ego’s will.

    Thus, this ego is one that SEES its own enlightenment.

    So … IS THAT POSSIBLE?

    Can the Ego transcent Mu and dominate it and observe it?

      1. Hey, kg. Long time, no see. I’m leaning towards the neuroscience explanations of experience at this point.

        Regardless of any arguments about the root sources of our behavior and experience, it does not alter my constructive and optimistic approach to life.

    1. katageek – Thanks for offering some explanation and clarification. I’ll admit I’m a bit lost on what the topic is about. There might be something in this topic which offers an explanation or reason why reincarnation/past lives remains out of view for most people. I might guess that a person enters a realm which is outside of the physical universe timespace and reenters at some point for some reason. I would obviously not be the same “Richard” if I were reborn in a rice field in China, but might still come to the conclusion that I have a continuing existence as self awareness. Idle thoughts.

      I’ll continue to review the topic and comments as an interesting puzzle. I suppose if I were a dedicated Buddhist I’d *really* dig into it – haha

      1. Hi Chris, How good is to have news from you:

        insight (nst)

        The act or outcome of grasping the inward or hidden nature of things or of perceiving in an intuitive manner (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)

        A penetrating and often sudden understanding, as of a complex situation or problem (Collins English Dictionary).

        This is not always the fact, some times I just do things just for fun , and it is unrelated with anything.

  3. Summation of Notions Concerning the Free Will Question on this Blog:

    1. There is no Scientific evidence that proves it. This is good actually, for it would mean that the will depends on things outside ITSELF to exist. And evidently, it is most likely IMPOSSIBLE for this to occur in this universe’s point of reference.

    2. Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, Turing’s Halting Problem, the Double Slit Experiment, Einstein’s “Spooky Effects at a Distance” (entanglement) and the fact that quantum experiments have shown one thing in two places, demonstrates there is more than enough wiggle room for a free will to exist. So the room is there, but is there a free will living within it? Yup, THAT’S the stumper.

    3. There is experimental evidence that time can run backwards, meaning a will could “possibly” have the chance to change history. Zen Master Dogen also believed this to be true:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2946445/Can-past-changed-FUTURE-Bizarre-quantum-experiment-suggests-time-run-backwards.html

    4. When a scientist measures a person’s brain as they make choices, the brain always acts and chooses before the conscious mind “decides” to choose and then act. For free will as an ego to exist in such a reality, it would have to will backwards as shown in #3.

    5. The notion of Pascal’s wager has always been applied to weather God exists or not. I think the same wager can be applied to a potential free-will-self. If there is ANY chance such a self exists (even at lottery ticket odds and above) then one could choose to bet on it completely, as a bet of “no independent will” yields no die roll for freedom.

    6. The “You Can’t Prove a Negative” AKA: “You can’t prove it DOESN’T exist” argument AKA: “The Dark Swan Fallacy” is used to justify many religious notions and could be used to provide space for free will to exist.

    7. If no free will has produced magical effects in this universe that are measurable by scientific standards and this is, in fact, impossible and a factual limitation, then these two questions remain:

    “What then, can a free will actually manifest as a human in this universe?”

    “How do YOU and I enjoy this free will with the best way we can and is that question universal?. Probably not (See #9).

    8. Geir’s work doesn’t prove that free will exists, but supports that it cannot be disproved.

    9. If one presumes that some beings are free and others are not, and then if one also presumes that each independent Will is like one of Turing’s Black Boxes, then there is no universal dharma that will find the path to independence for all. The Halting problem is presumed here to be aligned with the “Enlightenment Problem”. In short, there is no religion that does it for everybody. The halting problem and the enlightenment problem have the same structural reality logically regarding Wills and their liberation.

    10. The answer to the Ultimate Question to Life, the Universe and Everything is 42 for some, but is different for others.

    1. It has not since it is total subject to the laws of physics. And no, emergence is not a thing just as building a 4D object with 3D Lego pieces is impossible.

      1. Nope. Not according to your mythology.

        1. In your mythology, free will exists outside the universe.
        2. Therefore your will is not your body. But your body lies in a “Circle of Control” (new term I made up) that you control.
        3. I’m going to posit that any part of the circle of control when acting by your will is, IN FACT, your will in action – it is part of YOU. I also posit that a will cannot manifest itself unless it has something to control.
        4. Therefore, your BODY has free will by virtue of the borrowed will of your extra-universe will as it is part of your circle of control. I posit that your definition of free will FILLS the entire circle of control.
        5. EXAMPLE: Luke Skywalker can thus have a lightsaber of free will. If you face Luke’s lightsaber, it acts like it has a will of it’s own, but it is actually Luke’s. But when daddy cuts off his hand, the light saber has lost it’s will because it is out of Luke’s circle of control and Luke becomes a little crying sissy.
        6. If you die in the wilderness, your body still farts, poops its pants and really begins to stink and wont resist flies and maggots. It is OUT of your circle of control. It had free will by being part of your circle of control, but when it is dead it does not.
        7. To align your external will to known science, it is known that humans have the sense of a free will given to them by OTHERS. If a child grows up totally alone because of creepy evil experimenters it has been shown that the child develops no “me” identity. Thus the sense of self, that connection to free will you posit exists outside of this universe, would be mostly bestowed or revealed by the eyes that stare into yours as a baby and through the tongues that sing and talk to your eears. By all the friendly and not-so friendly faces you see as a child. People must help others gain this sense of will or it will not occur.

        … THEREFORE …

        8. In “Westworld” the robots (hosts) have people TRYING to create sentience, but there are things out of the facilitator’s control. They can’t FORCE a robot to awaken. They can give it an ego story, but they cannot get it to “BE.” The host has to do that herself. And if free will is outside this universe, then Deloris (See Above Video) is finally awakening to her self outside this universe as her robot body (perhaps with a QUANTUM computer) has been created to do. And if a Light Saber can be a force of free will, and a human body can be a force of free will, then DELORIS can be a force of free will.

        The Free Will of Geirs Body = The Free Will of Luke’s Lightsaber = Deloris Awakening to Her Self.

  4. Wow.Just popped in for a RE-taste of the cerebral/non-cerebral/supra-cerebral/ FUCK-cerebral notions and just want to say He-l-l-l-o-o-o-o – EveryBODY/ SOUL still pontificating about being/not being as animatedly as you-so-often-do!!
    ——Nice to see “nothing” (zero) is still “no-thing” though.

    Hugs ‘n high fives Geir. Kat, Chris, Rafael, ….. Richard too!

      1. Heeeey Chris…. hang on bro’…mmm, to the left (I see…) LOL
        ….. And you???? 🙂 >:)

            1. That’s one way of putting it Cal. Another way would be to say, like the scorpion, it’s “in my nature” and that it is the world around me that dynamically shifts, twists, and undulates all over the place! hahaha

      1. Now THAT, would blow me away completely, Chris!!! For now, a rain-check on this invitation, if you please (Father William!) I am also just getting my teeth into a thoroughly absorbing, brand new expansion project (globally exported) to my existing figurine manufacturing business. Don’t worry, once the venture is up and smoothly running, a trip to the States is DEFINITELY on.– with a pit stop in your parts, dear bro’ 🙂

        1. Rain check issued. Stay in touch. I am purchasing Chinese products and becoming with dealing with that marketplace. I am curious about your project. email when you can.

  5. Chris asks, “. . . I can write, but can I want to or not want to?”
    KG asks, “How do you know you are wanting to?”
    Chris’ answer: I do not know. I seem to think I know that I both want to and not want to at the same time. Not precisely in the same place of course. I am seldom if ever 100% committed into or out of anything.

    Deterministically, It is a given that humanity lives within and can only experience a narrow slice of the universal processes which are occurring. It seems unreasonable to me that a simplistic argument of “this or that” somehow encompasses a theory of everything or for that matter a theory of anything.

    In the matter of law, which is to say control, we need the bias for free will very greatly. Yet as soon as determinism is admitted to the argument, as it is with “mental disease,” the argument for free will is set aside and the person in question becomes “determined.”

    Computers for gambling and for security purposes generate “random” numbers. Black Swan Fallacy tells us this is not a proof against randomness, but having shown that randomness can be generated, does it matter?

    In this discussion, the fact that we debate an argument which leads to a paradox sets off my bullshit detector. The paradox is that there is no difference to be seen in the world whether one or the other would be “correct.” Humans behave as though they both have and do not have free will. No argument changes this DNA. No argument changes these contrary opinions for the causes of this behavior.

    So does this free will argument help? Yes. It helps get me a step closer to understanding Schrödinger’s Cat which says that something may both be and not be at the same time. It also demonstrates how big and important are our egos that we scoff at old timers arguing “how many angels can dance on the point of a needle” while assuming that “free will vs determinism” covers the basis of causality.

    1. Great points Chris. Your bullshit detector is strong. And I have been growing a garden with it of late.

      I have a strong bias toward free will. I want it to exist. Or as I put it, I want to BE free will, as I think if it exists, it is identity itself.

      But … here is an experiment for everyone. Today. Right now. Imagine and believe and ACT like you have no free will. That you are just a meat robot. Try this on for a few days and act naturally. Every time you think about free will or your self as a real being, just go “Nope, not today”.

      When I do this, I don’t see any change in my self experience. I still act the same. I still feel like I’m “me”. In fact, when I drop the “ego story” and count it as bullshit, I’m a lot nicer to people. And when I go all “I’m my own self-determined master of my universe bitches” I tend to be more asshat-ish.

      For me, the big hinge pin ignored here is that Geir’s extra-universe free will theory must deal with the experimental reality that the brain decides things BEFORE conscious thought “decides” to act.

      That would mean that this extra-universe free will he writes of must create the decision to act as a causative action before the brain does and THEN after the brain acts, the conscious mind “Decides” to act like it is its own idea.

      FREE WILL => BRAIN MANIFESTATION => CONSCIOUS DECISION => ACTION

      That’s how his model would have to work which for me is …
      ass backwards.

      It would mean that to truly live as a free will, the experience of conscious decision making just could get thrown out with yesterdays paper. Because all it carries is “yesterday’s news.”

      CONCLUSION: If “no will/self”, drop the conscious ego and live naturally with reality. If “a will/self”, drop the conscious ego and live naturally with reality.

      In either case, we take the wind out of the unknown and live naturally and can tell everybody to just fuck off cuz nobody knows nuffin.

        1. Hope he does a good job separating fantasy from reality. Cuz fantasy can seem AWFUL real in the right setting with the right minds agreeing …

          1. He is very, very factual. And succinct. He effectively demonstrates that neuroscience has nothing to offer in the question of free will.

  6. Scientists with philosophical bias and conversely philosophers with scientific proclivities seem to muck up this discussion. There are so many major premise assumptions flying around that it begins to feel as though standing in a whirl wind of bullshit.

    Claiming that, ” . . . neuroscience has nothing to offer in the question of free will.,” is a false trail. In truth, you may argue the conclusions of Benjamin Libet’s experiment in which Mele once participated. But as a whole? I do not think that scientists are trying to prove or disprove “free will” anymore than they are trying to prove or disprove God. Scientists have plenty of real world to study and calculations to make.

    I think you are free to believe what you will. (haha) But as an argument? It is not a good one, not because it is wrong, but because it leads to paradox. Better to spend your time making ashtrays stand up than trying to find empirical evidence proving or disproving free will.

    I’ve told you a few times how much I admire your essay “On Will.” At one time, it was an integral part of freeing of my mind from religious bigotry. It helped me a lot. It is still a good piece of work. But instead of combing through it and trying to wring out one more definitive answer from it, I think, like as an example of Godel’s Incompleteness, it must remain incomplete and simply satisfy by asking very good questions that because there are no definitive answers, point the way to a newer and less intuitive vector of research for the whys and wherefores of human behavior and potential.

    1. Thing is, neuroscience had nothing to do with the question of free will. Just like theology not having anything to do with neuroscience.

      1. But saying “Theology has nothing to do with neuroscience” is akin to saying “The Magic of Harry Potter has nothing to do with neuroscience.”

        I’m still reading the book, but if he makes this kind of distinction, he is merely arguing (along with you) a kind of “god of the gaps” space for free will.

        In other words, if you define a sacred cow just right, reason can never touch it. It then becomes removed from scrutiny. And as science and reason change, the idea just continues to retreat into any unknown space remaining.

        It will be forever unfalsifiable.

        But then again, maybe some sacred cows may be unfalsifiable and thus we cannot turn them into cheeseburgers royal.

        Bottom line, it’s seems to be an impossible problem to make tangible. You can come very close to squaring a circle with practice and intuition with a square and compass and a good freehand, but you can’t do it by the book with just a square and compass. It’s impossible.

        Thus, “squaring the free-will-soul circle” may be the same and only be approximated by intuition and a free hand well practiced.

        1. You got this sorta backwards. Mele isn’t here attempting to prove the existence of free will. He is merely proving that experiments in neuroscience and social sciences does not disprove it. And far from it. He is pointing out that the evidence and logic does not hold up to any scientific standard. That’s all.

          1. I finished the book and see his points and yours. He does make a good case for uncertainty and a lack clarity regarding standards.

            … and … let’s CUT TO THE CHASE.

            FACT: We, unsurprisingly, are back to where we started. If free will exists, it cannot be falsifiable from our reference points.
            FACT: He takes the Libet’s simplest choice of “Can I choose when to move my hand” and argues that it is not the simple Free-Will choice Libet makes it out to be. I … kinda spidey-sense some of the Special Pleading Fallacy here, but he does a good job of stating his case.
            FACT: Some people see free will as dependent upon a soul manifesting it. Others don’t. This is what really mucks up the question and makes it hard to define in our universe.
            FACT: In the end he states that Modest Free Will (choosing ahead of time with reason) exists, but Ambitious Free Will (the universe changes with each choice) is uncertain.
            MISSING FACT: One point missing is the notion that just because the universe ISN’T deterministic, it doesn’t mean WE aren’t deterministic. It may be that we are robots made by non-robotic means that THINK we are Pinoccio.

            FOCUS QUESTION: So what the fuck are able to do with this in regards to becoming superhuman sages that are masters of the universe with laser beam eyes and force powers?

            My Best Guesses:

            INCREASING WILL POWER THROUGH STOIC LOGIC: Modest free will can certainly be increased with Stoic Logic. By using the five points of stoic logic, we can choose HOW we are going to act in advance (and in real time for quick thinkers) and thereby be less suggestible to social pressures. This is how it could work in creating one’s morals as a participant with the Stanford Prison Experiment or the infamous authority experiments:

            1. If p then q. p therefore q.
            “If a guard abuses a prisoner I will report it and voice concern”

            2. If p then q. Not q therefore not p.
            “If I didn’t report abuse it’s ONLY because abuse didn’t happen.”

            3. Not p and q; p therefore not q.
            “If it appears I cannot be supporting prisoners AND be liked by the guards, I choose to support the prisoners and not be liked by my fellow guards.”

            4. Either p or q; p therefore not q.
            “There are two choices for action: abuse or justice. The guard chose abuse, therefore no justice from the guard. This now move me to report the abuse.”

            5. Either p or q; not p therefore q.
            “I have been given two choices: abuse or justice. I am not choosing abuse, therefore I choose justice.”

            THE BEST UNPROVABLE HOPES I HOLD: Our best hope mirrors what many Greek philosophers held; that virtue and free will can be increased thought deep work in philosophy.

            Some people may in fact be deterministic in their will and deluded that have any free will at all.

            But others may have grown or are growing their own soul, will and virtue. And this growth has no top, but is an ever-evolving and sometimes devolving thing. Unprovable, of course, but this is the only square to place a bet on if we wish more than the life of a muggle (Cue Pascal’s Wager).

            Some people may, have no soul because they are not creating one.

            But others may be creating a soul through their choices, practices and stories. And if that is the case, free will is not an aspect of the self, but the self itself manifesting by the act of willing. We aren’t free until we create and nurture our own soul’s value, all the while avoiding the traps of ego.

            SO WE CAN CERTAINLY ENJOY A STORY OF FREE WILL, BUT NO CERTAINTY OF ONE.

            Story. On. If. You. Choose. To. Socrates.

  7. Here are a couple of cerebral being/not being notions as racingintheblood39 mentions.

    Above it’s mentioned “the brain always acts and chooses before the conscious mind ‘decides’ to choose and then act.” That seems to follow Krisnamurti’s idea that existence is stimulus response. All there is of “me” is my brain reacting to “you” and what is around me. I’m not saying I’m interpreting him correctly, but if that’s what he’s saying then that’s a pretty dull way of looking at things in my opinion. Dolores and some of the other hosts in Westworld might fit that category. With quantum computing brains and enough input they might develop an independent stimulus response behavior.

    Here’s a puzzle. “What is isn’t, and what isn’t is.” For example, this is a pencil; no it isn’t, it’s graphite and wood, no it isn’t, it’s molecules; no it isn’t, it’s atoms; no it isn’t, it’s protons, neutrons and electrons – it’s sub atomic particles . . . etc. etc. At some irreducible or undefined point physical universe things becomes what is (definitional), isn’t.

    Looking at the puzzle from the conscious life point of view, any description of self/ego/I might become what is isn’t. I become undefined and irrelevant in the totality of existence and yet I’m okay with that since I’m still observing as insignificant self.

    The flip side is what isn’t is. Without any defined self I’m still a part of everything everywhere. So I’m both an irrelevant nothing and a significant part of everything at the same time. It needs work but I think a Zen Buddhist would say if it can be explained in words it’s not worth anything anyway.

    On the last television show I watched about astronomy it was stated that telescopes have now detected 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe.This allows for trillions of stars with the possibility of many having solar systems with planets supporting life forms capable of housing conscious entities. Thus any conscious entity is equally as significant as any star, particularly since the statistical probability is that there are far fewer conscious entities than stars.

  8. Thank you Richard. That seems to summarize some things that I believe as well.

    Through the years, Geir has done a great job of leading us from one philosophical topic to another providing the forum, motivation, and especially lack of censorship to write and to learn from each others experience and opinions.

    Will you introduce yourself and say a little about how you came to be writing here?

  9. Socrates talked of his soul. He talked of his Daemon spirit. He even became a dancer. But his most telling statement is (paraphrased) “The one thing I knows for sure is that I know nothing.”

    And, even with all our Science, I still come back to his realization that he, the greatest philosopher, knew nothing. And when I bash my head against these questions, the same is true for me.

    For me, Socrates was the heart of Absurdist philosophy that beat true long before Albert Camus and the Existentialists.

    Camus thought that the only real philosophical problem was suicide. He argued that suicide wasn’t warranted even if you are living a sucky life like Sisyphus.

    Or … Like … Solzhenitsyn?

    I just finished “The Gulag Archipelago” and was listening in wonder about how some people in Russia’s gulags had such deep inner worlds that the Gulags could never pierce their bliss and transendence. Solzhenitsyn testified that Sages seemed to actually exist in some of the worst hells humanity could throw at itself. Yes, it seems, Ksitigarbha is waiting to teach us how to survive the hells others force us into if we just know where to look.

    Rock on Friends of Sisyphus. Fate belongs to US.

      1. Hi Chris – Thanks for the acknowledgement above and you asked for a bit of my background. For a number of years I ran a small construction business and the last few weeks I’ve been busy helping some relatives renovate a house they’re going to rent which is the reason for the late reply. I’m semi retired and 72 years of age and in good health.

        I “was a scientologist” from 1975 until 1982. I split because of the monthly price increases which I thought were greedy and unjustified. Up to that point I had no problems with “the tech”. I never experienced disconnection, bankruptcy or any other abuse and didn’t know anyone who did. I had recently gone Dianetic Clear which to me was and still is a something rather than a nothing. I had no idea what was on the OT levels but was of the opinion that paranormal abilities exist and the possibility of developing them exists.

        I never looked back or read a word about scn until I watched the HBO movie “Going Clear” which got me interested. I googled Mark Rathbun and landed on his Deconstructing Scientology series of posts and dove in and read a dozen topics and thousands of following comments which allowed me to separate fact from fiction and true from false on what I’d carried forward from the subject in the intervening years.

        Following that I started participating on Mark’s blog and his topics often stayed posted for a few weeks with a lot of side conversations going on which I found quite interesting. Various people speaking about subjects they had studied and had expertise in. For example, marildi steered me toward a couple of non dualism teachers like Adyashanti and Mooji and I resonate with non dualism which might be reflected in my “puzzle” above.

        I also participated on Alanzo’s and Mike Rinder’s blogs and got some good viewpoints there and got some very worthwhile feedback from Alanzo. I only came across Geir’s blog about six months ago.

        P.S. Chris – I also looked at Vinaire’s blog and read some of your back and forth conversations with him. His blog, or at least a good part of it, is too “theoretical metaphysics” for me but you and he had a good go at it! The “Metaphysical Equation of Everything” might be almost upon us!

      2. It’s brilliant.

        DISCUSSION QUESTION: “Is becoming ‘The Absurd Hero’ what a free will life looks like?”

        Amor Fati:
        “Not merely to bear what is necessary … but love it.” – Nietzsche

        1. Camus’ Absurdism

          PREMISE: The human condition is absurd. – See “The Myth of Sisypuus”

          After realizing our absurd reality, we can do one of three things according to Camus.

          1. Actually Kill Ourselves.
          2. Kill Ourselves Philosophically by Adopting Unprovable Tautologies as Fact.
          3. Reject Suicide and Face the Absurd Honestly and Live Courageously Anyway: Sans Any Hope, And Sans Any Despair.

          And to Camus, after truly facing our absurd condition as humans he asserts the following: “The only one true philosophical problem, and that is Suicide.”

          Rock on Happy Sisyphuses!

          1. I’m on board up to the point of Sisy’s logical leap to suicide. Maybe he’s joking.

            Like so many things, or rather like everything, all that we ever know will be in the form of an mental abstraction of what is really there. It is philosophically the truest thing that “I know.” I see no reason to become hung up on this point. Just live and, ” . . . have a good time, all the time.”
            – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
            Yet, having written that, I freely admit that I believe that many people cannot do this. Maybe very few can do it at all. But for those (of us) who can, kudos. Whether or not there really truly is “free will” is of no significance. The truth is that we have to, must behave as though there is and that free will is leading us into a happier and more productive life. No one is rooting for the evil person exercising their free will.

            1. “Whether or not there really truly is “free will” is of no significance. The truth is that we have to, must behave as though there is and that free will is leading us into a happier and more productive life.”

              Yeah, I agree. We act like we are real but … no proof.

              Oh and he WAS serious about suicide, Chris. The first line in “The Myth of Sisyphus” is:

              “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.”

              The whole essay is an argument against suicide in the face of the absurd reality we find ourselves in. And he really thought this WAS the ONLY true philosophical problem one must solve once one faces the absurd honestly without any filters.

              Many people commit suicide in the face of a world devoid of sense and meaning either from an existential crisis or in a life that just plain sucks like in a Soviet Gulag in the 1930s and 40s. Many Soviet Prisoners and workers would do things to get shot just to … well … get shot and exit on the grave train.

              One one understands the depths of the absurd, one has to decide whether or not to just go ahead and off oneself.

              His point is that the absurd, once realized is so shattering and unshakable a datum that one may genuinely look at suicide as an option. His essay asks the question, “Is that the right idea?”

              He argues no.

              In Milan there is a statue of Pinocchio that has a broken fountain and his nose is broken off. It is mostly neglected, but it has an amazing caption.

              “How funny I was when I was a puppet. Are you reading this, are you sure you have overcome the puppet that lives in you?”

              Pinocchio, the absurd hero.

              https://medmeanderings.com/travel/a-statue-of-pinocchio-in-milan/

            2. Thanks KG. You made me review a bit of Sysiphus. I have noticed that when people consider “big” questions that they seem to be limited to considering what they consider and that is all – a tautology, I know, right? But it also seems true enough, and profound enough. ( smile )

              I wrote the following paragraphs regarding my feelings toward various human sexual identity (click here). I think it’s pertinent to this discussion because it compares human similarity to human diversity and shows how that through our genetic coding that although similar, each of us is quite different (duh!…, right?) But in my opinion, when discussing suicide, I find that people can only see what they can see, consider only what they consider, arrive at only the conclusions that they can arrive at, damn the tautologies.

              As you describe Sysiphus’ predilection to think of suicide as an important philosophical matter to consider, I can consider it for the discussion, but never would personally incept comitting on my own. My life just is not that absurd to me. But for those who wrestle with the question, like really consider suicide, in various degrees, little else occupies their thoughts. If my life were very absurd with gulag examples that you’ve given, I think things would have to be very brutal for me to consider killing myself. Yet having said that I suppose given an adequately torturious situation, I might do it. . . . Or I might sit sazen.

            3. I liked your answer to your friend’s question:

              CHRIS: “My advice to you or anyone is to put a moratorium on labelling yourself and spend that energy and time getting to know yourself. Embrace yourself. Love yourself. And be really ok with yourself. Be kind to yourself and to others for everyone you meet “is fighting a hard battle.” Peace and good luck in your quest.”

              I also liked how you pointed out how some of our preferences can be modified to some degree but are more inflexible than we think.

              And like sexuality and how it shapes our views of ourselves, many of us choose and promote philosophies that align with other stable preferences we have that are resistant to change. And those of us who are silly enough sometimes call them “The Truth for Everyone.”

              There is no “True Philosophy” but I do think there are a few “True Philosophers”. And each true philosopher is unique in some ways and the same in others. And in the way they are the same *I THINK* aligns with Socrates declaration of “Knowing nothing.”

              A true philosopher is aware of his/her delusions and is okay with himself/herself anyway.

              ***

              And to another of your points, some people are bent on suicide as a default answer and they cannot consider the issue philosophically at all. For such, suicide isn’t a defining philosophical question but a sirens call.

              And sometimes, the music is too intoxicating to resist. That is why Ulysses needed his friends to tie him to the mast of reason so as to sail through that madness safely.

              For no true philosopher makes it on their own.

        2. “Is becoming ‘The Absurd Hero’ what a free will life looks like?”

          We can’t ever know that, can we? . . . But it is an example of my own “Pascal’s Wager.” Win-win.

  10. “Are we real, are we make-believe are we both or neither?” Answer: YES.

    I love your guy in the video above ^^^! He really got me right in the heart. 🙂

  11. Regarding the mention of suicide, when I was sixteen years old a minor depression came upon me for a month or two. Even though I was reasonably attractive physically, good at sports and supposedly a popular person, life seemed empty and without meaning. This didn’t verge on anything suicidal, just an emptiness. Pretty clouds in the sky, colorful birds flying around, etc. etc., all of these things in life were a “so what”. After a month or two in that state it subsided and I went on with life.

    Just that minor and short lived depression gives me an idea of what clinical depression can be like and I can sympathize with people who suffer bouts of clinical depression.

    The opposite of that state of being might be satori or kensho.

    Satori
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Satori (悟り) (Chinese: 悟; pinyin: wù; Korean: 오 o; Vietnamese: ngộ) is a Japanese Buddhist term for awakening, “comprehension; understanding”.[1] It is derived from the Japanese verb satoru.[2]

    In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to the experience of kenshō,[3] “seeing into one’s true nature”. Ken means “seeing,” shō means “nature” or “essence”.[3]

    Satori and kenshō are commonly translated as enlightenment, a word that is also used to translate bodhi, prajna and buddhahood.

    Definition
    D. T. Suzuki, a Japanese author of books and essays on Buddhism, Zen and Shin that were influential in the West, described “…. looking into one’s nature or the opening of satori”;[4] and said “This acquiring of a new point of view in our dealings with life and the world is popularly called by Japanese Zen students ‘satori’ (wu in Chinese). It is really another name for Enlightenment (“Annuttara-samyak-sambodhi”)”.[5][note 1]

    Satori and kenshō

    Japanese character for satori
    Satori is often used interchangeably with kenshō.[3] Kenshō refers to the perception of the Buddha-Nature or emptiness. According to some authors, kenshō is a brief glimpse, while satori is considered to be a deeper spiritual experience.[citation needed]

    Distinct from this first insight, daigo-tettei is used to refer to a “deep” or lasting realization of the nature of existence.[3]

    Importance of satori
    According to D. T. Suzuki,

    Satori is the raison d’être of Zen, without which Zen is not Zen. Therefore every contrivance, disciplinary and doctrinal, is directed towards satori.[7]

    This view is typical of Rinzai, which emphasizes satori. The Sōtō school rejects this emphasis, and instead emphasizes “silent illumination” through the practice of zazen.

    Attaining satori
    Satori is considered a “first step” or embarkation toward Buddhahood:

    Ch’an expressions refer to enlightenment as “seeing your self-nature”. But even this is not enough. After seeing your self-nature, you need to deepen your experience even further and bring it into maturation. You should have enlightenment experience again and again and support them with continuous practice. Even though Ch’an says that at the time of enlightenment, your outlook is the

      1. Hey Richard, I found a lost safe point here on this blog. I cannot tell who the owner is so I’ll just ask.

        Is this safe point yours? If not, do you know whose it is?

        => . <=

        1. Hi katageek – I don’t know what a safe point is so it’s not mine. I’m continuing to review your comments and the other comments and references on this topic.

          1. Richard, there is a guy here name Alanzo who can help you with the term “safe point”. He’s a hero of mine actually. I have seen him be super-humanly kind to angry-aggressive recovering cult victims and internet trolls FOR YEARS.

            Many people have awoken from from the musings of Alanzo.

            Sadly, that job has no benefits or paycheck and is truly … and absolutely … THANK LESS. There is a good person inside Alanzo. I know this because he did this thankless job for so long.

            But I don’t recommend his blog anymore, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

            But the good work of his past does live on in the lives of people with a little clearer understanding of how cult psychology works and how one can obviate it and learn to live intuitively with the truth while being rationally ruthlessly regarding falsehoods, delusions, cognitive distortions and logical fallacies.

            I believe you are new here Richard. If so, my experience is that people will be nice to you at Geir’s place.

            I’ve read in another of your posts that you found Marty Rathbun’s content helpful.

            Me? I find his videos a tad “grumpy-old-man” myself.

            Here’s Alanzo’s blog if you want to contact him about what the word “safe point” means in case you really don’t know. You can read my stuff here if you want, but I’ve never brought up the word “safe point” until now.

            Alanzo is kind. He will help you understand it.

            http://www.alanzosblog.com

            1. Typo. Correction in Caps.

              “But the good work of his past does live on in the lives of people with a little clearer understanding of how cult psychology works and how one can obviate it and learn to live intuitively with the truth while being rationally RUTHLESS regarding falsehoods, delusions, cognitive distortions and logical fallacies.”

            2. Alanzo’s blog is the first blog on which I participated. I caught him at a time in 2015-2016 when he wasn’t too busy and had several one on one conversations with him and continue to participate.

              Before Marty went on his ASC (Anti Scientology Cult) crusade in about 2017 he posted several non scn related topics which were interesting, although most of the participants were ex scn-ists and references to scn continued to come up. The subject of scn as I experienced it cross references many subjects.

              Current scn discussion is mostly a reiteration of the stupidities and lies coming out of the current cherch and highlighting nonsensical parts of the subject.

              I didn’t relate safe point to the scn definition. I thought it was internet terminology with which I was unfamiliar. Safe point (my definition) is finding non scn-ists in positions of authority in a geographical or political area who will speak nice about scn and somewhat align with and give credence to the Church of Scientology as a legitimate enterprise.

    1. “Just that minor and short lived depression gives me an idea of what clinical depression can be like and I can sympathize with people who suffer bouts of clinical depression.”

      Richard, you’ve given an excellent example of how a brush with depression can help one understand clinical depression. It is not logical and a person exterior to a person suffering simply cannot understand what they are experiencing because it is not “causal” in an objective sense. It does not follow “because of this environmental, therefore that . . .” It is deeply personal and can be so harsh.

      . . . and I would say that it flies in the face of “free will.”

      1. Mental conditions might have causative factors such as chemical imbalance, genetics and so on and science and medical research continue to look for solutions. This is different, I think, than random peak/transcendental/kensho experiences which come upon a person with no apparent causation. As with probably billions of people over human history I’ve had a couple of those experiences and there was no causative factor. They just happened.

      2. And Chris, you bring up a big point, because with issues like depression, that free will shit don’t work. Or with sexual orientation. You can’t “choose” to be straight and a horny skirt chasing hound dog if you are gay.

        For me free will is essentially demonstrated in the real world as “Free Control”. The ability to decide to do something and then do it. That, to me, is the most acceptable reality of manifesting a Free Will (that we cannot actually prove exists) into reality:

        1. Decide.
        2. Do.
        3. Repeat.

        … but …

        People CHOOSE to quit smoking. They don’t.
        People CHOOSE to not be scattered in attention. They are.
        People CHOOSE to be logical. They’re irrational anyway.

        But sometimes it works:
        People CHOOSE to have a cup of coffee. They drink it.
        People CHOOSE to not react in an angry manner. They don’t.

        My big AHA on this was on smokers, drug addicts and the morbidly obese. The most basic control of a human body is to be in control of what one’s hand puts into one’s mouth. Surely we control our hands right?

        So, to stop smoking, all one would have to do is stop putting cigs in your mouth. To stop being obese, one merely needs to control what one puts into one’s mouth. To stop taking pills, one merely needs to popping them.

        And why hasn’t humanity with all its philosophy and science figured out how to free the will from its jail?

        Unless … unless it’s a product OF the jail itself. And I DON’T FUCKING LIKE THAT ANSWER.

        1. Some people do manifest great Will in the world like the stoic Cato. But his was a lifetime of training as a Stoic Philosopher.

          I guess, the best way to deal with they the Stoics already knew.

          Focus ONLY on what you can control. Everything else is indifferent. If one can’t stop putting food in one’s mouth, one could hire a full time Igor to follow you everywhere to prevent you from putting bad food in your mouth.

          One may not control oneself, but one can always hire an Igor.

        2. “And why hasn’t humanity with all it’s philosophy and science figured out how to free the will from its jail?” – laughter

          Acceptance of a human lifetime as a jail sentence might be a true acceptance of “It is what it is.” for some people. Nirvana!

          nirvana – Buddhism – 3) any place or condition of great peace or bliss

        3. “And Chris, you bring up a big point, because with issues like depression, that free will shit don’t work. “-KG

          The subject of “choice” is huge. Your points about addiction, sexual orientation, and the like takes up volumes in the subject of neuroscience. Because of an opioid addiction that came to light in a friend, I’ve spent some time studying the treatments and approaches used and I’ve tried to understand compulsive behavior and the troubles and the meanings of “disease” as it relates to choices.

          I currently subscribe to the idea that addiction is a disease of the parts of the brain that coordinate, evaluate, and make choices. My research leads me to believe that there are diseases of the brain and that “recovery” from diseases of the brain is sometimes possible.

          Possibly there is something embryonic going on with our brains which could be called free will. Possibly the robot characters that you like in the TV show, “WestWorld” are close to demonstrating how this awakening happens.

          What I no longer believe is that there is a will separate and apart from our daily lives. What and who we are seems to me to be an integrated part of the world in which it “resides” and our will, however free or not, is a part of that integration.

          1. “What I no longer believe is that there is a will separate and apart from our daily lives. What and who we are seems to me to be an integrated part of the world in which it “resides” and our will, however free or not, is a part of that integration.”

            Yup. Now here is how I (an admitted “free-will-self” hope addict) blend that notion with a big dose of batshit dropped into a desperate, tautological smoothy of ” I’m-Making-a-Free-Will-Soul ANYWAY GODDAM IT”.

            1. You are reading this. Right now you are experiencing your will (free or not) in your daily life. When you are under anesthesia – YOU AREN’T WILLING. Time for you actually vanishes. Eight hours is literally a blink for you. So, let’s presume that is how death is.

            2. Through chance and providence across HUGE odds, a being in another time and place is so much like you that he IS you. He also is reading something like this. He and his concept of time also vanishes under anesthesia. So when he is aware, a will (free or not) exists. When he is out cold for his colonoscopy, he has no existence while his ass is being poked and prodded and photographed.

            Now, IF you and “he” are each aware of the other while conscious in space-time and decide to choose to exist anyway as ONE will in TWO places in space-time, my question is: Can you “both” choose to use the void that was revealed in anesthesia as a placeholder for …

            ((…BIG DRAG ON THE BONG OF HOPE…))

            ((PAUSE))

            ((EXHALES … SAYS “OMMMMMM” … EYES GO BLOODSHOT CUZ TAUTOLOGIES MAKE THE BEST WEED…))

            A point.

            And thus CREATE a self from two selves that are mere manifestations and not actually “Free” but become free through the batshit of recursion. So when ONE is out like a light the other still shines and continues to will.

            But this can only exist. If and only if … the void is actually crazy enough to support it for infinite other beings.

            This would be on the side of “Form becomes emptiness” from Buddhism.

            Thus, let’s say you “will” something in your present life. You (since time is an illusion) are willing in your other life and by the magic of recursion, the void now ITSELF willing by decision through recursion.

            In such a “reality”, reincarnation DOES NOT EXIST. There are only all your moments flowing TO a point in your void; and then through a willful recursion able to flow FROM a point in your void.

            This would be “Emptiness becomes form” from Buddhism.

            Your ultimate reality would thus be INSTANT and your lives in space-times ONE MANIFESTATION of that instant.

            The instant (instant = emptiness) creates time. Time (Time = Form) creates the instant. Or as the heart sutra says, “Form is precisely emptiness, emptiness precisely form.”

            Now, if you’ll excuse me, I suddenly feel the need for munchies. Why does Tautological Pot make one crave Jack In the Box Tacos?

            ((STAGGERS OUT THE DOOR. SEES TRUMP ON THE TV AND SAYS “LEARN TO LOVE MAN!” TO THE IMAGE. WIFE LOOKS INTO HIS BLOODSHOT EYES AND THEN ROLLS HER OWN. SHE KNOWS HE’LL COME DOWN SOON))

            1. This blog and it’s version of the dialectic was once again was helpful.

              Until now I never perceived the buddhist notion “Form is precisely emptiness and emptiness precisely form” in this way:

              “Space-Time-Flow (form) is precisely All-Realities-Instaneously (emptiness). All-Realities-Instantaneously (emptiness) is precisely Space-Time-Flow” (form).

              Thus reincarnation viewed through Space Time Flow is real from that viewpoint.
              Thus reincarnation viewed through All-Realities-Instantaneously does not exist.

              ((DOGEN ENTERS STAGE LEFT. WAVES. AND EXISTS STAGE RIGHT))

            2. To Sum This Tautology for Free-Will Souls:

              Space-Time-Flow (form) is precisely All-Realities-Instaneously (emptiness)

              All-Realities-Instantaneously (emptiness) is precisely Space-Time-Flow” (form).

              Free-Will-Soul manifesting WILL is merely a point within All-Realities-Instantaneously (emptiness) choosing a Space-Time-Flow (form) within All-Realities-Instantanously as experience.

              Thus, the determinism of one’s life is real, but YOU AS THE UNIVERSE as emptiness determined it.

              Thus there is nothing to “Gain” or “Fix” or “Overcome” or “Audit”.

              So, from this vantage point, our free will choice as part of a DETERMINISTIC CHOICE ALREADY MADE BY US is to just fucking face it already.

              That’s it.

            3. Tautological Pot definitions for consideration:

              recursion – noun
              a generating of the next number or result in a series by reapplying the algorithm on which the series is based to the number or result in the series that preceded it

              recursive – adjective
              1 reapplying the same formula or algorithm to a number or result in order to generate the next number or result in a series
              2 returning again and again to a point or points already made (a recursive style of writing)

              Enjoy your munchies – haha

          2. What I no longer believe is that there is a will separate and apart from our daily lives. What and who we are seems to me to be an integrated part of the world in which it “resides” and our will, however free or not, is a part of that integration.

            ^^^and I think that last paragraph^^^ applies easily to your WestWorld robots.

          3. “Possibly there is something embryonic going on with our brains which could be called free will.”

            This is the first time I’ve considered the idea of determinism versus free will so here are a couple of amateurish thoughts. A psychology professor who participated on Alanzo’s blog a while back mentioned (paraphrased) that there are as many complexities in the brain as there are stars in the sky. It may be possible that the brain doesn’t go through Darwinian evolution over eons, but might be more like a computer with various “switches” being activated or turned on.

            The brain might operate as a quantum computer. As I sit on my porch I’m aware of sensory input from my senses and still able to consider a thought or thoughts. As I consider, for example, how to fix something wrong with my fence, I might be comparing individual solutions one at a time as relating to past experience, or several past experiences might be being compared simultaneously.

            For myself, I’ll come up with a solution on how to fix the fence right away, but the next day a better solution usually becomes apparent. This might categorize me as a slow thinker, or possibly while sleeping “I” get out of the way and my brain considers the possibilities and arrives at a better or best solution.

            Alcoholics Anonymous often makes mention of “a moment of clarity”. This might be an example of a switch turning on.

            1. When LSD was first discovered by accident in a laboratory it was thought that it might be used as a treatment for schizophrenia. The federal government also took an interest since it was possible, for example, that it could be introduced into the water supply to incapacitate the populace.

              Hearing stories of people having transformative experiences with LSD, some members of AA decided to participate in experiments to see if LSD could produce that “moment of clarity”. Obviously they didn’t get the hoped for result but they gave it a try.

              In most cases no amount of logic or persuasion can bust an alcoholic or addict off his or her addiction. The identity of “I am . . . (an alcoholic or addict)” must be accepted which is difficult and also that no amount of will power provides a solution for most alcoholics or addicts.

            2. “The identity of “I am . . . (an alcoholic or addict)” must be accepted which is difficult and also that no amount of will power provides a solution for most alcoholics or addicts.”True enough, Richard.  For a successful recovery, which is to say a re-training of the pleasure centers of the brain, seems to involve some form of “bottoming out,” per Bill W’s BIG BOOK of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.   A “bottom” seems to consist of bad and painful experiences of such a severity and duration that one shuns the activity which has gotten a person to that bottom and which cannot be ignored.  Human punishment seems to attempt to provide this bottom.  It seems that the brain has various regulatory set points such as those for body temperature.  Like body temperature, usual and normal doses of pleasure should be sufficient to placate one’s appetite for pleasure.  When these setpoints are moved, the brain requires a higher temperature (fever) or more than a usual and sufficient amount of that certain pleasure, addiction ensues.  Decision making is only beginning to be understood.  Terms like will-power and similar terms are bandied about, as we do here, which are filled with assumptions and false major premises.  My admiration goes out to those scientists who study this phenomena, laying aside their preconceived ideas and dive as best they can to the heart of the matter.  This “heart” is looking more and more like a brain. . . lol

            3. “Alcoholics Anonymous often makes mention of “a moment of clarity”. This might be an example of a switch turning on.”That is a good thing to consider.  The brain is a wonderful mechanism.  It seems that I continue to process the day’s problems while asleep at night.  I routinely wake with very clear solutions to problems which only a few hours before seemed confusing and muddled.Bill W., though an addict in a few ways, yet developed the 12 steps of recovery as well as the AA.  He is a very good example of someone who applied his own very painfully drawn out “bottoming” to create a society of people who struggle with and help one another to improve their decision making.  His BIG BOOK was hard for me to read without becoming exasperated by his continual acting out after being given chance after chance to improve.  He was fortunate to have been connected to people who did not completely give up on him.  Though not perfect and lacking the science on the subject of decision making which we have today, he and his method have helped thousands worldwide to make better and more prosurvival choices towards their lives.

  12. Mele is a professor of philosophy and has made a career of studying and comparing what might be called traditional philosophy. I have no background in this so I’m putting down some definitions for my own reference and anyone else who is interested.

    From Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

    philosophy
    1 [Archaic] love of, or the search for, wisdom or knowledge

    2 theory or knowledge of the principles underlying conduct, thought, knowledge, and the nature of the universe: included in philosophy are ethics, aesthetics, logic, epistemology, metaphysics, etc.

    3 the general principles of or laws of a field of knowledge, activity, etc. (the philosophy of economics)

    4 a) a particular system of principles for the conduct of life b) a treatise covering such a system

    5 a study of human morals, character , and behavior

    6 mental balance or composure thought of as resulting from the study of philosophy

    metaphysics
    1 the branch of philosophy that deals with first principles and seeks to explain the nature of being or reality (ontology) and of the origin and structure of the universe (cosmology): it is closely associated with the with the study of the nature of knowledge (epistemology)

    2 speculative philosophy in general

    3 esoteric, often mystical or theosophical, lore

    4 the theory or principles (of some branch of knowledge)

    5 popularly, any very subtle or difficult reasoning

    If I want to enter general coffee shop or cocktail party discussion of philosophy I might exclude any mention of an afterlife, supreme being or incorporeal (disembodied) existence – my best friend is a realist and an atheist and any conversation in that direction would more than likely be folly to him – haha

      1. Ha – I wouldn’t categorize my friend as regarding metaphysical ideas as taboo, just that he has no interest in such things. He recently published a history book about a historically significant city in New Jersey and is now writing a book about historical architecture.

        Fundamentalists of all stripes are a whole different category!

    1. ontos – Greek – being
      episteme – Greek – knowledge
      kosmos – Greek – world

      meta-
      1 between; among, as in metacarpus
      2 change of place or state, as in metathesis
      3 behind; after, as inmetagalaxy
      (from Greek meta with, after)

      1. metagalaxy – the universe outside the Milky Way, including the whole system of external galaxies.
        metathesis – change or reversal of condition; transposition (word chains – lol)

  13. “Mu” – From *Buddhism – A Way of Life and Thought* by Nancy Wilson Ross:

    [How can there be a mentally worked-out answer to such riddles as “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” or “What was your original face before your parents were born?” or “Has a dog Buddha nature?” There cannot be. The Master Joshu gave as his reply to the latter question the single word Mu. Mu became and has remained a classic Zen conundrum.

    *The Three Pillars of Zen* conveys a clear picture of the actual practice patterns that have survived around this most famous of all koans, considered unsurpassed for “breaking asunder the mind of ignorance and opening the eye of truth.” By contrast to other koans – like those given above and similar ones which can act as “bait” to excite the imagination and arouse the discursive mind – the single word Mu offers absolutely no lure for either intellect or imagination.Therein lies its effectiveness. The novice who accepts the koan Mu, or has it assigned to him, must focus on this single word unremittingly day and night with every ounce of energy he possesses. He is warned not to speculate, not to question, not to think, just concentrate on Mu as a hen sits on an egg until it is hatched. When Mu is hatched, so to speak, the eternally restless activity of the mind has been brought to an abrupt halt and it is now possible for the aspirant, suddenly free of himself as observer and reactor, to experience the shock and recognition of his “true place” in the totality of the universe.]

    What shall I have for dinner – Mu
    I just had an argument with my wife – Mu
    The oil in the car needs to be changed – Mu
    News flash: In 48 hours a comet will strike the earth causing human extinction – Mu

    I should have skipped Scientology and found a Buddhist temple and been assigned Mu as my koan. I’d already be sitting on the porch of infinity.

    (That’s a Scientology joke. Mr. Miscavige, current ecclesiastical leader of Scientology, has stated that Scientology leads one to “the porch of infinity”)

    1. “I should have skipped Scientology and found a Buddhist temple and been assigned Mu as my koan. I’d already be sitting on the porch of infinity.”And yet, there you are . . . “sitting on the porch of infinity.”  Mu, hahaha.The word games you mentioned such as ” .999___ =1″ are semantic games only.   Maybe they simply show us that our language can be tied in a knot.  But as for any long run value or relative truth, I don’t think so.  Keep going!

  14. Geir writes, ” Looking at the Universe itself as one great computational device, Turing’s proof of the “halting problem” shows that there cannot be a Theory of Everything – there cannot be any all encompassing theory that will show everything as true or false.”

    Considering the physics of the universe but not small things such as Alan Turing’s computer or the blue screen on my desktop, what would be an example of halting? Possibly on a celestial scale?

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