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Monthly Archives: July 2008

Daniel Dennett: The self as a center of narrative gravity

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“Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon? ”

We like the comfort of our beliefs and positions. They are our old friends. We have spent a lot of time coochi-cooing with them, ironing out every annoying crease of disformity. Using the chisel of cognitive dissonance, we have sculpted our mind for maximum fit with the undulations of our container beliefs, like a bonsai plant.

No wonder then, new beliefs and new ways of thought appear unpleasant, and rightly so, need to be extensively studied and checked for contaminants under the torchlight of logic, before sweet, happy uptake. Yet, like John Lennon said “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”, we do not step outside life, the universe* and everything, while we happily evaluate options.

We continue to make choices, execute decisions based on our current philosophies – considered, happened upon, underevaluated et. al.- the only thing common to them is we have grown comfortable to them – and reap the benefits/pay the price for the consequences.

Waiting to commit to a (any) school of thought is in consequence, an endorsement of our subscribed (by default) school of thought (which may not have been subjected to the same rigour to which the new school is subjected). (This is different from the argument by verbal skullduggery that starts with “Atheism is also a religion because it is the belief in non-existence of …” and so on.) There is safety in (default) loyalty to our beloved beliefs, but this safety comes at a price.

The fence is illusory. Do or not do. There is no fence.

* Archimedes said “Give me a place to stand and I shall move the earth”. Change “earth” to “universe”, and ‘Houston, we have a problem!’

mara is the omega to the alpha. Agent Smith to Neo. Mr. Nobody the busybody. The serpent seducing you to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The tail of the Ouroboros that has to be consumed to complete the circle of life.

mara is always at hand when you need him and when you don’t. He has handy easy-to-understand low negentropic answers to every question you have thought of, and to those you haven’t yet thought of.

He speaks of random walks in the dance of rationality. Of destinations the bridges to where have long been burnt.

Your refusal to commune with him is what he wants. Or maybe not. Call him in for a tete-e-tete and ask Ananda to make some tea.

Jessica L. Lakin, Tanya L. Chartrand: Need for inclusion with in-groups, nonverbal behaviour, reaction to exclusion, nonconscious mimicry

“Exclusion from social groups has negative emotional, psychological, and behavioral consequences. Yet it also seems important to explore the potential positive consequences; perhaps after exclusion, individuals engage in behaviors that help them affiliate with new people or re-establish themselves in the excluding group. The research described here demonstrates an affiliative behavior that occurs after exclusion – nonconscious behavioral mimicry.”

 

 

 

“In The Simpsons episode Itchy and Scratchy Land during a robot attack Lisa attempts to defeat the robots with the liar paradox only to find they have already been introduced to it unlike Homer who go crazy trying to figure it out.”

 

  

 

The writers of The Simpsons imagined a Homerian brain going crazy upon encountering the liar paradox. However this does not demonstrate to me the dumbness of the H-brain. Unsmartness, perhaps. By going loopy over the paradox, Homer’s mind redeems itself quite well imo and demonstrates its nondumbness. A truly dumb H-brain (Homer*) may (I am speculating here) not see the paradox at all; in any case, may not consider it even slightly noteworthy. I would have Homer* go looking for donuts or something, upon encountering the paradox.