Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

To: Alamo-Girl; ahayes; omnivore; hosepipe; cornelis
I think that is an excellent approach to his theory - much better than his original article!

Thanks for your kind words of encouragement, my dearest sister in Christ! At present this is just an hypothesis to try to track down....

As you know, I've been reading William James in connection with research on "God and the Observer Problem." I came across some very striking lines that evoke some of the things that Lanza is saying. The truly striking thing to me, however, is the fact that The Principles of Psychology was originally published in 1892 (IIRC), and yet in these passages seems to capture insights that would seem to be before their time -- in the sense that Planck's quantum of action, and Einstein's photon, and the elaboration of quantum theory (let alone the existence of Lanza) had not yet been discovered/occurred.

Here are the excerpts I find so "striking": They hit the foundation of the "observer problem" dead-on IMHO.

Out of what is in itself an undistinguishable, swarming continuum,devoid of distinction or emphasis, our senses make for us, by attending to this motion or ignoring that, a world full of contrasts, of sharp accents, of abrupt changes, of picturesque light and shade.

If the sensations we receive from a given organ have their causes thus picked out for us by the conformation of the organ's termination, Attention [selective observation], on the other hand, out of all the sensations yielded, picks out certain ones as worthy of its notice and suppresses all the rest....

Helmholtz says that we notice only those sensations which are signs to us of things. But what are things? Nothing, as we shall abundantly see, but special groups of sensible qualities, which happen practically or aesthetically to interest us, to which we therefore give substantive names, and which we exalt to this exclusive status of independence and dignity. But in itself, apart from my interest, a particular dust wreath on a windy day is just as much of an individual thing, and just as much or as little deserves an individual name, as my own body does....

...[P]erception involves a twofold choice. Out of all present sensations, we notice mainly such as are significant of absent ones; and out of all the absent associates which these suggest, we again pick out a very few to stand for the objective reality par excellence. We could have no more exquisite example of selective industry.

That industry goes on to deal with the things thus given in perception. A man's empirical thought depends on the things he has experienced, but what these shall be is to a large extent determined by his habits of attention. A thing may be present to him a thousand times, but if he persistently fails to notice it, cannot be said to enter into his experience....

The problem with the man is less what act he shall now choose to do, than what being he shall now resolve to become [which is implicit in his choice].

Looking back ... we see that mind is at every stage a theatre of simultaneous possibilities. Consciousness consists in the comparison of these with each other, the selection of some, and the suppression of the rest by the reinforcing and inhibiting agency of attention. The highest and most elaborate mental products are filtered from the data chosen by the faculty next beneath, out of the mass offered by the faculty below that, which mass in turn was sifted from a still larger amount of yet simpler material, and so on. The mind, in short, works on the data it receives very much as a sculptor works on his block of stone. In a sense the statue stood there from eternity. But there were a thousand different ones beside it, and the sculptor alone is to thank for having extricated this one from the rest. Just so the world of each of us, howsoever different our several views of it, all lay in the primordial chaos of sensations, which give the mere matter to the thought of all of us indifferently. We may, if we like, by our reasonings unwind things back to that black and jointless continuity of space and moving clouds of swarming atoms which science calls the only real world. But all the while the world we feel and live in will be that which our ancestors and we, by slowly cumulative strokes of choice, have extricated out of this, like sculptors, by simply rejecting certain portions of the given stuff. Other sculptors, other statues from the same stone! Other minds, other worlds from the same monotonous and inexpressive chaos! My world is but one in a million alike embedded, alike real to those who may abstract them. How different must be the worlds in the consciousness of ant, and cuttle-fish, or crab! [All boldface added for emphasis.]

Or of Robert Lanza's glow worm....

This stuff definitely takes some getting used to!!! LOL!

Anyhoot, it seems to me that Being is that which does not change. Knowledge is that which changes, based on human observations and experiences which, once articulated, must (it seems to me) bear some truthful relation to Being, or they cannot be "true." Note also that James suggests that getting knowledge "right" is an intergenerational project: we and our ancestors together do this work of "constructing a common universe" in thought and language.

Possibly we could take a next step and say that Being and Life are identities. That could lead to all kinds of interesting speculations, such as cosmological theories of a living universe, astrobiology, etc. But my ideas at this point are still fairly preliminary. I'd love to hear your thoughts, A-G!

150 posted on 05/31/2007 2:17:17 PM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 149 | View Replies ]

To: betty boop
Possibly we could take a next step and say that Being and Life are identities. That could lead to all kinds of interesting speculations, such as cosmological theories of a living universe, astrobiology, etc.

Or, the being of the universe is living, an organism. But why the caps? Do they make the organism a necessary being?

155 posted on 05/31/2007 5:18:04 PM PDT by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 150 | View Replies ]

To: betty boop
[... Possibly we could take a next step and say that Being and Life are identities. That could lead to all kinds of interesting speculations... ]

Amen.... it's so cool being a child of God..
Imagination is pregnant with possibilities in children..

Children are so comfortable with "observing" metaphorical entities but are made to enforce "observing" literal entities as they are assimilated into rational adult life..

Observing the literal and observing the metaphor must be very important factors in the study of "Observation".. Because thats the difference of what we are talking about with the observations of science and the observations of metaphysics.. When metaphysics students lose their childlike wonder they become serious scientists.. but unimpaired scientists can love metaphysics..

For the metaphor is far deeper in meaning and scope than any measly literal definition.. of anything.. The literal entity is bound by language but the metaphorical entity is released by it.. The Study of "Observation" MUST take into account the observation of the literal with the naked eye and the observation of the metaphorical with microscope and telescope..

157 posted on 05/31/2007 6:00:17 PM PDT by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 150 | View Replies ]

To: betty boop
Thank you so very much for your wonderful insights and that excellent excerpt!

An artist once told me that the sculptor removes the stone which does not belong in order to reveal the masterpiece that was always there. I hadn't thought of it in terms of the observer problem, but it does make sense. The masterpiece was "real" in the mind of the artist and in the stone, though only he perhaps knew it.

I'll be meditating on your speculation that Being and Life could be seen as identities.

159 posted on 05/31/2007 9:51:35 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 150 | View Replies ]

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson