Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Apr 18, 2018.
It's the nicest thing anyone on here has said about me. I'm keeping it.
Not a hierarchy, a holarchy.
One of the hardest things to do in any debate is to recognize how your own bias is harming your judgment.
But there is a way to identify when this happens.
Consider how you would react if the other side made an analogous judgment.
I first recognized this in a political discussion but it is applicable generally. Someone said they were amused by something a politician did. I thought it was amusing too until I considered how I would react if someone in the other party had done something similar. I realized I would not find it amusing at all.
If something is okay if your side does it but not if the other side does, then you are being deluded by your own bias.
In any debate, if you constantly check your statements and ask yourself, "how would I react if the other side did or said something analogous to this", you will begin to see how your own bias might be harming your judgment.
We are using different language to say the same thing. I am impressed, as I read through the posts above, by the depth of thought that forum members are bringing to the topic. We must be informed by our experiences, and we use the language we have to hand to convey what we think.
I took to animism as a working idea because it alone gave me the means to resolve multiple perplexing experiences into a single useful idea. This one idea helped me make sense of many experiences. That does not mean I see it as any kind of universal idea that others should work with.
I think we are sharing a struggle to move toward a universal idea. At the moment it seems that the secular term for it is consciousness - at once deliciously imprecise and essential. I am always reminded how Star Trek can call 'Space' the final frontier and yet I worry if I have enough 'space' in my backpack to carry my junk. Personally I quit thinking about pan-psychism and idealist when I got animism and now i find myself playing catch up in this discussion as I try to recall what those words mean.
On the subject of UFOs being 'mental' as opposed to 'physical' phenomena I want to observe that Robert Monroe and others do discuss civilisations that operate in the non-physical realm (as we know it). I suppose we'd call it inter dimensional travel. Folk arrive here in our physical dimension using a technology that enables them to 'manifest' here. So they are 'mental or psychological' in the one sense we first become aware of them through non-physical senses. Strieber encounters agencies that are so far removed from us that they seem to be to us (at the very least) as we are to guinea pigs.
It seems to me that we have a bizarre conceit that our level of intelligence is significant. Our potential might be, but there are aliens who are very truly alien to us engaging with us. We are not within cooee of 'getting' them. There may be others closer to us.
Even in the records of human attainment there are stories of folk in non--physical form expressing in a physical way and having physical effect. So physically expressed UFOs do not need to come from a physical origin.
While we are opening up to the potentials that lie in embracing consciousness as a foundational idea we are constantly wrong footed by our habits of thought conditioned by materialism. I loved watching the early Dynamo Magician Impossible series (on YouTube) because that guy screwed with my head. Still does. I remember one woman responding to a performance by saying it "Isn't scientific", and a guy saying, "Its wrong." When magic violates our sense of what is right and proper we are captured by a mentality we even may not voluntarily assent to being influenced by. When we see something that appears to violate our notion of what is right and true, it is astonishing how often we challenge the event and not our notions. We have a sense of the normal and the real in our minds. But that don't mean its right.
I often have to ask myself whether I am struggling to think or struggling to be free of habituated thought. Mostly its the latter.
I don't think you can have a materialistic metaphysics. But it was a useful video because I downloaded the William James book Pragmatism (free from Kindle).
The thing is that materialism denies a metaphysics, but it can't escape it either. This is more than a language problem. It is about how metaphysics is defined. A materialist who denies the existence of a metaphysical realm (as I define it) creates a metaphysics to hoover up anomalies in their experience and contain them. Real metaphysics is more Dyson (bagless) - context, and not container.
As with any word you can manage the implications of its meaning by defining it to suit your needs. This video was fair without being liberating. It gave a long leash to an idea, but still was able to reel it back in. For me metaphysics is beyond physics, not a subset of it.
I suspect that no one, whilst still incarnate, can be free of some degree of habituated thought--or conditioning, external or internal--even during unusual states of consciousness. There's always some remnant of "ordinary" thought that contaminates the state. If we were to perceive unusual forms, be they demons or angels or ETs, they'd still have some similarity to how we usually experience living forms (head, torso, arms and legs).
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Kant distinguished between the thing in itself and the appearance to our perception of the thing. In Idealism, all that we perceive are representations of thought processes in MAL. Many such appear, when observed, the same to everyone -- as bodies, elementary particles/waves, planets, stars, galaxies etc -- and/or are experienced in similar manner (time and space).
One can posit that there may be thought processes that aren't so consistently observed; maybe only some dissociated entities can perceive them, or maybe perceive them only in specific circumstances. They may for all we know be capable of leaving artifacts after they have disappeared from perception.
In this schema, there'd no such thing as magic. Instead, there'd be real things-in-themselves that either reliably and consistently appear to our perception, or don't. It would be a question of ignorance, rather than magic, conjuring the illusion of strange goings on.
We could be stuck in a twilight as much informed by what we've been conditioned to believe as by actuality. We can never entirely escape the bounds of language, which is built around the way we perceive. We're all in this sense at least part materialist, and can't express ourselves except in terms of the way we perceive. Materialism could be considered a byproduct of language, in turn a byproduct of perception. We all struggle to express ourselves within the straitjacket of language.
I wish Bernardo Kastrup's suggestion that increased mystical experiences were associated with decreased brain activity were straight forwardly correct, but I fear that like most attempts at finding neural correlates of complex psychological states, it will turn out to be not that simple. Some neuroscience research suggests that a psychedelic like LSD increases brain entropy ie. reduces global integration of neural network but increases local network topologies, while other research has found that the psychedelic psilocybin creates greater cortical integration, all be it, only over short time scales. Research into hypnotic induction and brain activity has also given some mixed results with regards to how hypnotic states affect the brain. Some research suggests that the pre-frontal cortex reduces activity in the default-mode-network of the brain eg. structures like the anterior cingulate, while other research has found the opposite: increased DMN activity and reduced pre-frontal cortex activity. Maybe neural correlates of mystical states is not sufficient to tell us why the brain will behave differently due to difference mystical states. This then raises the question of how science could possibly explore consciousness beyond the confines of the brain since, if extended consciousness paradigm is correct, just looking at the brain will not tell us much about the extended-beyond-brain global network of consciousness. I can't help but feel in attempting to engineer a theory of extended consciousness we have to be like the man in the famous "Fammarion" image and somehow escape the physical firmament and see the reality that lies beyond it whilst simultaneously somehow keeping ourselves anchored in the consensus reality we call the objective, physical world.
I'll wager their conclusions are tentative. We probably need a level of imagination that is beyond us to grapple consciousness to the ground, which is why all "-isms" look like baloney.
Interesting discussion on the very small, touching on QM and implications for consciousness. The experts are very honest on the mysteries therein. At one point Frank Close (Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Oxford) says (something along the lines of) quarks "knowing" what electrons are up to. Is that awareness? Hmmm...
If you mean Koch's conclusion, that is as though the Pope suddenly declared himself an atheist, and the Catholic bishops concluded that his change of heart was only tentative!
That change of heart by Koch must have happened after endless agonising over the contradictions of materialistic consciousness - rather like Thomas Nagel's re-think.
A great deal depends on what we mean by magic. There is an important distinction to be made between the art of illusion and the art of making stuff actually happen. Proper magic, as I understand it, is about actually making stuff happen. From reading Radin's book (but not yet finished) that is his interpretation too. I get that people don't accept that magic is real, and I don't want, necessarily, to debate the point, However it is important that we are using the same language to express the same ideas. Otherwise we are communicating at cross purposes.
I like the idea that we can "never entirely escape the bounds of language". We can only ever gesture to what we mean using what tools we have. This is one of the extraordinary features about physical existence. Stewart Edward White wrote of the unobstructed (metaphysical) and the obstructed (physical) aspects of the universe. We strive to relate and communicate using the media of the obstructed aspect of the universe - the spectrum of languages we have (auditory, visual, written, tactile). Its a damned hard way to communicate and relate, when the non-physical option of what we call telepathy is available. But we become conscious and deliberate. There is maybe nothing more spectacular about humanity than when we seek to communicate with ardent desire and care. That is, when we strive to overcome the obstructions inherent in being a physical being. We use sound and light and texture as well as the inherent character of our spoken and written languages to convey things that are beyond the physical.
Maybe we are bound in, and to, language. But we can strive to make it our glory and not our prison. It is almost true that "We all struggle to express ourselves within the straitjacket of language." Yes, language expresses cultural boundaries on what can be thought and good. But look at what Shakespeare did. Consider the great poems, essays, novels and speeches. The person in the straitjacket still has imagination and spirit that can nullify and transcend its constraints. Reality is described, rather than formed, by language in my view. I see the real straitjacket at the level of our psycho-spiritual sense of self - at the level of lived experience.
I haven't read Kant for so long I am embarrassed, but I am going to guess that language is not the only filter between a thing in itself and our awareness and understanding of it. Language reflects our mentality, our life expression and experience. We create an interpretation of the essential attributes of being in ways that can be refined or crapulous. Our lives are an interpretative expression of truths, ideals, pains and so on written on the fabric of the obstructed universe.
It is true, I think, that we are constrained, even captive, by our beliefs and assumptions. Plato said it earlier and better in his story of the captives in in the cave. If we accept the limits of thought and language imposed by 'authority' we will come to believe the shadows are reality. This applies to the idea of magic. If we think it is just illusion and trickery and not the real deal we limit our sense of what our potential is. Do a few saturation hours on YouTube of Dynamo and Yif magic and see how you go. If you still think it is all illusion and trickery we are not talking the same language, even if we are using the same words.
The whether or not of real magic is the issue here, I think. What you think magic is actually defines how you see the world. if you want to shift your world view you need too shift your idea of what magic is. That's kinda what Radin's book is about (at least so far).
Yes, this led me to imagine Radin ditching the usual presentation and doing an interpretive dance piece instead at his next engagement.
If Koch is claiming that he has a full and complete grasp of the nature of sub atomic particles, and their interactions, he should share it.
Well, to some extent I myself was straitjacketed by language. When I said:
In this schema, there'd be no such thing as magic. Instead, there'd be real things-in-themselves that either reliably and consistently appear to our perception, or don't. It would be a question of ignorance, rather than magic, conjuring the illusion of strange goings on
I wasn't denying the existence of "magic" as the term is commonly used (I'm agnostic about that). I was talking about an interpretation of magic as not being something strange, just something quite natural that is observed only occasionally. I've watched Dynamo videos and the one performance that particularly arrested me was when he appeared to reach inside a jewel case, grab a necklace, and pull it up through the glass, giving it to someone who had chosen it:
It was a remarkable performance -- was it a trick, or did he actually do that? If it was a trick, Dynamo is just an excellent illusionist. If it actually happened, then it was "magic", meaning that in some way he is able to harness an uncommonly observed natural process at will. The strangeness wouldn't be in the act per se, only its unfamiliarity to us.
Anything that can actually happen isn't strange. Everything that actually happens is natural, though we may be ignorant of how it happens. In the West, we are conditioned to think that certain things are impossible, and so usually look for an explanation relying on trickery or carefully controlled illusion. So even if we see something that plainly looks impossible, we'll think it's a trick that we haven't as yet figured out. This is all I was trying to say, really.
To truly convince a fence-sitter such as myself that Dynamo can really reach through solid glass, I'd need to see him do the act in very carefully controlled conditions -- a specially constructed jewel case, arranging for the performance to occur at a time and place of my choosing without his foreknowledge, and so on. This is just to convince me personally, you understand. It doesn't say anything about whether he actually was able to reach through solid glass, only about what is necessary for me to overcome my conditioning and accept the performance as being exactly what it appeared to be.
Of course, there's the trickster archetype: notice that Dynamo doesn't just reach through the glass, but does so behind one hand, thus leaving open the possibility of trickery. It may be that magic, if it's real, has to leave open that possibility; won't work unless it does. As usual, I tread the middle way. It doesn't actually matter to me whether or not magic is real, and even if I were gifted with unusual powers, I don't think I'd be inclined to use them because instinctively, I don't like the idea of messing with such things.
The world is amazing enough even without "magic". I'm amazed all the time by common occurrences that everyone can consistently and reliably perceive. The existence of animal forms, for example, is amazing and usually taken for granted, yet how did they come to be? It's an unfathomable mystery that puts occasional anomalies in the shade. We were put here, amongst other things, to experience this amazement, but most of us have lost the sense of wonder at "mundane" occurrences, and can only experience such wonder at "magic" occurrences.
To summarise: magic may exist, but so what? Even without it, I'm perpetually amazed by what I perceive in the ordinary course of events.
Right. To me, the fact that we are conversing on a forum could be classified as magic, in a way. That there exists something, anything, instead of nothing, is wildly baffling. I can actually scare myself into a semi-panic if I think about it too hard. "Why is there anything? There shouldn't be anything, it doesn't make sense. Wait, does that mean that there is actually nothing? Oh no." Of course I calm down a moment later lol.
Magick is a science
I think Radin (in Real Magic) is closing in on making the proposition that magic is inherent in human reality - only some folk do it with focus and power. That is - it is not something distinct from 'reality' and what is 'natural' but inherent in what is. We manage our exposure to it through thought and language - so 'magicians' are distinguished as much by their prowess as how we see them and 'language' them.
Dynamo merits saturation viewing through the 4 Dynamo Magician Impossible series. They are entertaining no matter what you think he is up to, and the bullied boy from Bradford narrative is pure genius.
BTW I am half way through Radin's book and I am keen to get up a discussion on it with other readers.
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