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Posted on Jan 26, 2011
White House / Chuck Kennedy

Q & A - Live Chat with Robert Scheer


A live Q & A session related to this column took place on January 27, 2011 at 11:00 am PT.

Click here to view the transcript.


By Robert Scheer

What is the state of the union? You certainly couldn’t tell from that platitudinous hogwash that the president dished out Tuesday evening. I had expected Barack Obama to be his eloquent self, appealing to our better nature, but instead he was mealy-mouthed in avoiding the tough choices that a leader should delineate in a time of trouble. He embraced clean air and a faster Internet while ignoring the depth of our economic pain and the Wall Street scoundrels who were responsible—understandably so, since they so prominently populate the highest reaches of his administration. He had the effrontery to condemn “a parade of lobbyists” for rigging government after he appointed the top Washington representative of JPMorgan Chase to be his new chief of staff.

The speech was a distraction from what seriously ails us: an unabated mortgage crisis, stubbornly high unemployment and a debt that spiraled out of control while the government wasted trillions making the bankers whole. Instead the president conveyed the insular optimism of his fat-cat associates: “We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.” How convenient to ignore the fact that this bubble of prosperity, which has failed the tens of millions losing their homes and jobs, was floated by enormous government indebtedness now forcing deep cuts in social services including state financial aid for those better-educated students the president claims to be so concerned about.

His references to education provided a convenient scapegoat for the failure of the economy, rather than to blame the actions of the Wall Street hustlers to whom Obama is now sucking up. Yes, it is an obvious good to have better-educated students to compete with other economies, but that is hardly the issue of the moment when all of the world’s economies are suffering grievous harm resulting from the irresponsible behavior of the best and the brightest here at home. It wasn’t the students struggling at community colleges who came up with the financial gimmicks that produced the Great Recession, but rather the super-whiz-kid graduates of the top business and law schools.

What nonsense to insist that low public school test scores hobbled our economy when it was the highest-achieving graduates of our elite colleges who designed and sold the financial gimmicks that created this crisis. Indeed, some of the folks who once designed the phony mathematical formulas underwriting subprime mortgage-based derivatives won Nobel prizes for their effort. A pioneer in the securitization of mortgage debt, as well as exporting jobs abroad, was one Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE, whom Obama recently appointed to head his new job creation panel. 

That the financial meltdown at the heart of our economic crisis was “avoidable” and not the result of long-run economic problems related to education and foreign competition is detailed in a sweeping report by the Democratic majority on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to be released as a 576-page book on Thursday. In a preview reported in The New York Times, the commission concluded: “The greatest tragedy would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming and thus nothing could have been done. If we accept this notion, it will happen again.”

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Just the warning that Obama has ignored by continually appointing the very people who engineered this crisis, mostly Clinton alums, to reverse its ongoing dire consequences. As the Times reports: “The decision in 2000 to shield the exotic financial instruments known as over-the-counter derivatives from regulation, made during the last year of President Bill Clinton’s term, is called ‘a key turning point in the march toward the financial crisis.’ ”

Obama appointed as his top economic adviser Lawrence Summers, who as Clinton’s treasury secretary was the key architect of that “turning point,” and Summers protégé Timothy Geithner as his own treasury secretary. The unanimous finding of the 10 Democrats on the commission is that Geithner, who had been president of the New York Fed before Obama appointed him, “could have clamped down” on excesses by Citigroup, the subprime mortgage leader that Geithner and the Fed bailed out along with other unworthy banking supplicants.

Profligate behavior that has hobbled the economy while running up an enormous debt that Obama now uses as an excuse for a five-year freeze on discretionary domestic spending, that small part of the budget that might actually help ordinary people. Speaking of our legacy of deficit spending, Obama stated, “ … In the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people’s pockets. But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in.”

Why now? It is an absurd demarcation to freeze spending when so many remain unemployed just because corporate profits, and therefore stock market valuations, seem firm. Ours is a union divided between those who agree with Obama that “the worst of the recession is over” and the far larger number in deep pain that this president is bent on ignoring.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s new book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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BR549's avatar

By BR549, February 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

Shen,
“... both are programmed by a human mind. The computer did not program the faster mower. It is an asymmetrical relationship.”
Well, ...... if you wish to use THAT analogy, why can’t we just say that God had programmed the following:
the man
the computer
the chimpanzee
Binet’s infusoria
Cleve Backster’s office dracaena
and the rock we spoke about earlier?
And all that is only what we can grasp in THIS physical Universe.

From that standpoint, I still argue that it is humans who have failed to comprehend the larger sense of what constitutes “programming”.

Regarding simians, let us also not forget the sorrow that Koko the gorilla expressed over the loss of her pet kitten, All Ball, as in
the sign conversation with her in 1984:
When asked, “Do you want to talk about your kitty?”
Koko signed, “Cry.”
“What happened to your kitty?”
Koko answered, “Sleep cat.”
When she saw a picture of a cat who looked very much like All Ball, Koko pointed to the picture and signed, “Cry, sad, frown.”

It may not jive with the scientific community, but I’m putting my money on Mother Nature rather than the the scientific method.
Until proven otherwise, I’ll give the plant and animal kingdoms, and even rocks, all the latitude they seem to feel no need to
require.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

We have busy lives, at least some of us do. I may not get back
to you or this forum with any speed also. That does not mean I do
not value the conversation. Indeed I do as this kind of discussion is
the exception not the rule on Truthdig. Actually I am grateful there
is the latitude to engage in more than superficial discussion and
over the four years I’ve been a participant, Truthdig has not once
discouraged such interaction. 

Yes, BR549, I know what the Chineses Room argument addresses. I
don’t watch football either. To address your comment, “the people who
drive to work every day and who pretend to be conscious…they are just
victims of their own reward system that they were taught from watching
a TV screen or from communicating with others… if you programmed a
computer to analyze its past attempts to perform certain tasks to
perform those tasks in a more efficient and cost saving manor, how is
that really different from some guy mowing his lawn faster so he can
get inside in time to watch a football game?” Well it seems simple, both
are programmed by a human mind. The computer did not program the
faster mower. It is an asymmetrical relationship.

It should not be surprising that chimps show precociousness in pre-
linguistics. This is understood by scientific observation as the
preliminary skill shown in the phase before human children say their
first meaningful words which happens approximately from newborn to
about 13 months. During this phase, infants will deliberately bring
attention to objects non-verbally by pointing and touching. 
Accordingly, even newborns communicate by crying, cooing with
satisfaction, and babbling in an effort to communicate.

As noted in Language Thought Reality, the discriminations that
underlie animal behavior may or may not coincide either extensionally
or intentionally with human verbal classifications. A dog might collect
cats together with hamsters or be able to separate black cats from all
others, even if it groups all and only cats together, because it might
recognize them through an unsuspecting sense, by smell rather than
visually.  We would have to observe if different colored cats possess
different odors. But this by itself is no obstacle to ascribing to animals
concepts that differ from ours. For example, when chimpanzees
distinguish foodstuffs and tools, the operative difference appears to
be a simple operation of determining the edible and the inedible. 
Sometimes this has proven to be fatal as when a nasty neighbor
poisons food a dog or cat would eat. Chimps are no less susceptible. 
Accordingly, what kind of concepts we should ascribe to animals
depends on the parameters governing their discriminatory behavior. 

Such considerations are likely to indicate that our ordinary ascriptions
require cautious qualification, but not that they involve the kind of
convenient pretence Davidson, the linguistics philosopher, diagnoses. 
Whether this criticism is viable, would depend on in what is considered
concepts and concept-possession.

Unless we want to find ourselves caught in a reductio ad absurdum, and
attribute conceptualization to butterflies and trees, I think we ought not
to count mere ability to distinguish red from its complement green or
between what is moist from what is dry as having the advanced ability
of conceptualization, not even if such discriminatory behavior is
‘learned.’  I think it would be absurd to ascribe trees or rocks with
having concepts.

Again, to cover ground already traversed: A response of a chimp or
any other non-human animal may confine non-linguistic concept-
possession, in the normative sense, as theorized by Davidson, to
human infants and other simians.  It does not make concept-
possession dependent on language, but on discriminatory behavior
that is adequately complex and flexible.  I would guess we have more
conversation on this topic.

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, February 26, 2011 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment

Shen,
Concerning the Chinese Room issue (from wikipedia), “It addresses the question: if a machine can convincingly simulate an intelligent conversation, does it necessarily understand?”

I could say the same thing about most of the people who drive to work every day and who pretend to be conscious. They give the illusion of being capable of engaging in an intelligent conversation (that’s when they get their head and their latte out of their ass, in no particular order), but when it comes right down to it, they are just victims of their own reward system that they were taught from watching a TV screen or from communicating with others. In that respect, if you programmed a computer to analyze its past attempts to perform certain tasks to perform those tasks in a more efficient and cost saving manor, how is that really different from some guy mowing his lawn faster so he can get inside in time to watch a football game? I don’t watch football, so don’t go there.  :o)

The experiments with Chimpanzees, which I think was mentioned earlier, showed that in lieu of appropriate terminology for an “onion”, the chimp pulled as many descriptive terms that were in its lexicon so that it could describe that onion experience. In this case, it was “hurt-cry-food”.

I am not yet convinced that the intelligence issue is solely due to being a life form or even being organic. I think we make the mistake in assuming that there has to be some minimum threshold of consciousness, when it might just be humans who have not yet reached that level of higher consciousness to understand why it is ALL related. When I figure it out, I’ll let you know cuz I still ain’t there.

Sorry to be so late getting back to you. My bad!

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By radson, February 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie: are you still looking for that elusive
Avatar ;if you have siblings ,then you can unequivocally be certain that a interconnectivity
exists between yourselfs .That’s the easy part ,the hard part is breaking free.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

That was a great cup of coffee!  And bagel with crème cheese and
blueberry preserves.  Would that those in Darfur had such a luxury! 
Perhaps someday they will have the equivalent to their own taste? 
Or any others who go hungry at this moment and ever so long. But
I have to ask, within the scope of this conversation, who was it that
was enjoying that breakfast?  And who is I?

Not only are location and physical boundary not intrinsic, while the
former seems completely obvious and the latter completely not, all
that one can know about the external world comes through the
senses, not through any other means.  The problem with knowing
the sensible world is that as data is received by the organism, the
information is delayed by just that much time it takes from the moment
of interface to the time it takes for it to traverse the sense nerves to the
brain and then to process it as the sensation it is.  All of it already
exists in history.  Then the mind processes it in terms of memory and
its ability to make comparisons and perceive relationships with other
experiences and judges the sensations as good or bad experiences.

This notion of good or bad is also a measurement of morals so is it
possible that evaluation of physical sensation gave rise to evaluation
of behaviors in a society?  The great gulf between mind and mind is
no more or less puzzling than it is between self-consciousness and
externality, ah, that cup of coffee?!  Do we so easily slip in to solipsism?

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, February 23, 2011 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

One escape from the Chinese Room is to remind ourselves that physical location and boundedness, object-ness, is not necessarily an intrinsic attribute of things, but something an observer imposes on them.  But the necessity and influence of that observer in Quantum Mechanics and even in classical physics strongly implies that the objects we perceive are not the totality of their underlying ‘reality’—that things might extend outward into one another.  Indeed, all objects might cross over into one another like waves in a pond.  If so, Searle’s Chinese Room, while we don’t think it can experience consciousness as such, as the thing we objectify, may be part of something which does ‘have mind’.

One question that could be asked about this view of things is why and how, if there is all this crossing-over, we experience the ‘great gulf between soul and soul’.  Experiencing group mind ought to be a piece of cake.

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By Shenonymous, February 23, 2011 at 10:58 am Link to this comment

Yes, I agree, mind is a better abstract term than consciousness. 
I feel the same way about the word soul preferring to call what that
is considered to be as mind. Splendid of you to bring up the Chinese
Room argument.  It is fitting.

No doubt Searle is the direct beneficiary of Leibniz.  Searle considers
a complex system composed of relatively simple operations and
argues that it is impossible to see how understanding or
consciousness can be the result and especially with respect to
machines and whether or not real artificial intelligence is possible. 
That pretty much sums up our argument on this forum on the
consciousness of rocks for a rock is not more or less inert than any
machine, even robots.

Searle does seem to be intuitively correct. Anything that can have
mental states such as emotions, beliefs, fears and anquish would seem
legitimately be said to have a “mind.”  It does seem to be a problem to
understand meaning, to know the meaning of meaning in a kind of
weird self reflexive way.  What meaning means and what exactly
consciousness is are at the apex of the problem.  One of the main
obstacles is just as simple when questioning how can one learn about
reality just by thinking?  Philosophers continually ask, “are there
thought experiments that enable us to acquire new knowledge about
the intended realm of investigation?” 

The problem seems to reside in the idea of knowing where the new
information comes from if not from direct contact with that realm. 
Furthermore, how can good and bad instances of thought experiments
be distinguished?  Or assessed?  What is the measure?  Critical to the
argument is the question is if machines could genuinely have a mind? 

The Chinese Room argument has probably caused more argument and
anger in the philosophy of mind than any other because it is so
fundamental to the entire project of philosophy.  One either embraces
the argument as unsinkable or mocks it with just as passionate
belligerence.  Most likely because the argument does have intuitive
force.  Those in the field of AI criticize it that it is dangerously
misleading.  Be that as it may, it does challenge what is the nature of
the mind and how such arguments can be seen as a way to shed light
on what is one’s basic assumptions about what is human thought and
how to be precise in evaluating experience. 

Since it is still up in the air, waiting seems to be on the menu.  And
right now so is my breakfast!

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, February 23, 2011 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie,
Here again, we have the problem of assigning some meaningful term to describe what exactly it is that this “stuff” contains that allows it to be connected to the whole of the Universe. We are left struggling with boundaries of energy and matter while the Universe’s life cycle, if it even has one, is just too vast to comprehend.

So, we are left trying to imagine how a tachyon could find its way to the farthest reaches of the Universe in the same amount of time it took to go across the street. The idea just isn’t within the average person’s conceptual lexicon. As you suggested, using the terms “consciousness” and “awareness” still don’t describe the situation and a definition of that special “something” is still beyond our reach, as well it should be. Perhaps, once our race has matured enough to become a responsible steward for this planet, we might be worthy of a small part of that understanding.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, February 23, 2011 at 1:53 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, February 23 at 2:25 am:

According to panpsychism, every particle in the history of the universe carries consciousness. ...

That depends on your version of panpsychism.  I think that is the Leibnitzian view.  In fact, in his view the universe is made up of ‘monads’ which contain or reflect the history of the universe (I think).

However, I prefer not to use the word ‘consciousness’ because, like ‘awareness’, it suggests, indeed, seems to demand, information processing.  I do not see how a photon can process information since as far as we know it lacks any internal structure.  (I think—maybe physics has moved past me….)  So I use the term ‘mind’ instead.  I think of it as a primitive of existence, indeed, _the_ primitive, the _inside_ of things, the physical body or source of phenomena being the _outside_, that is, what we observe from the outside when looking at the phenomena.

The reason animal bodies can be _aware_of_ specific things (phenomena) is that they contain brains which specialize in information processing.  However, a special organ might not be strictly necessary to awareness, hence my interest in Binet’s book.  Microorganisms do respond to phenomena, so perhaps they also _experience_ them in some way.

One of the problems with this line of thought (if it is supposed to be scientific) is that it is difficult to think of an experiment which would come out differently depending on whether the subject was a mindless automaton or an embodied mind, given that the two subjects had the same degree of complexity.  And see the ‘Chinese room’ thought experiment.

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BR549's avatar

By BR549, February 22, 2011 at 11:09 pm Link to this comment

Shen,
I didn’t mean to infer that your spec of dust had a level of consciousness that WE would be able to relate to and therein, I think, lies the problem. I think that people often mistakenly assume that life has to happen around their understanding of it, well most people anyway. I think you and a few others can see beyond that.

Imagine, now that we have digressed on more important matters, how a mind such as that belonging to John Hagelun could have changed the White House had people understood where he was coming from during the 2000 election. The human race is capable of so much more, yet is is saddled by the dark side of its own fears as we too often see in Washington, the Bilderbergs, and despots around the world. Instead of teaching everyone how to meditate in their daily lives, these people aren’t happy unless they are supporting Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot. I’m glad I won’t be there when that karmic door comes and tags them in the ass.

Energetic signatures ....... ever heard of tacyons? Well, it is theorized in the dowsing arena that tacyons may be the medium through which people can reach beyond our own physical constraints to learn of events in the past or future. One author I read many years ago used the terms T(-1), T(0), and T(+1) to try to illustrate three different aspects of tachyons concerning “time”. I’m not sure I could explain it the same way he was able to, but let me just add this example before I close.

Workers at the JPL in Pasadena in the late 90s were doing an experiment on the moon. I spoke with two of them on this. There was this telemetric phase of an operation that required an initiation from the control center, the transmission out, the sampling, the remote processing, and the return transmission (if I remember all this correctly). I don’t think this was a formal experiment, mind you, maybe it was, but the guys who were a part of this had dowsed for the results when they pushed the button and had their answer immediately. The experimental process, meanwhile, had to include all the previously mentioned constraints and took several minutes.

I guess that leads me to ask how far down the ladder of evolution can something or some event generate a tachyon stream, and if anything can do so, imagine the sheer enormity of this “data” that much be racing around the Universe and yet we, as humans, are only capable of receiving and processing the remotest fraction of any of it. Meanwhile, the Bilderberg maggots think they have the power to play God. See my point? Instead of humans staying in the awe of the Universe, we have virtually forgotten all about it and, more importantly, ....... our part in it.

BTW, in order for me to clean up my posts here, I have to go to the Preview option, lengthen the response box from 3-1/2” to 6-1/2”, and then painstakingly keep removing the system generated carriage returns that TD keeps putting in while typing into the 3-1/2” box.

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By Shenonymous, February 22, 2011 at 9:25 pm Link to this comment

According to panpsychism, every particle in the history of the
universe carries consciousness.  Does this occur also in the form
of particles?  So it is particles of consciousness of particles. Hmmm,
v e l l y i n t a h r e s t i n g.  And was there only a single particle
In The Beginning?  Big Bang non-deity driven or Deity driven doesn’t
seem important in this particular context.  Or maybe it is?  I don’t
know as I can’t imagine either occurrence.  Can you?

And what about the rise of consciousness in such medium as water. 
Water is as much a thing as is a rock.  Water could be considered a
rock in its frozen form.  Does each water molecule, H2O, have
consciousness, what about the separate elements of hydrogen and
oxygen and do both atoms of oxygen have consciousness?  Or do you
just generalize from a hypothetical random sampling?  And I love the
debate about Republicans and their capability of conciseness (?) or is
that consciousness, Leefeller? exceeding that of rocks?  I hope it is the
latter you meant, for I think Republicans are in fact concise in their
limited conservative mumbojumbo.
 
With the story about the Yorktown battlefield in Virginia, does every
particle of soil hold these ‘memories’?  Seems like the have to.  For
one particle sitting next to another would be a such a disadvantage if it
didn’t!  What if some of the particles of dirt get moved to a far location
say on the soles of shoes or boots, or even just down the road a piece? 
Do they retain their memories?  Do you then agree that to have
consciousness a thing must be capable of memory? And while you
do say the trees of yore also had those memories but their progeny of
trees there today do not have those memories because of their relative
newly born status, then does that say memories are not transmitted via
DNA to descendents?
You ask, BR549, “would humans more naturally ?get the heebie-jeebies
in a spot where something horrific happened to other humans?” What if
it could be shown that hardly any human gets the heebie jeebies when
standing on the battlefield.  But that some imaginative reporter says
that is what happens to people but he/she has no empirical data?  And
what exactly are heebie jeebies?  Do they have consciousness?  Are they
a thing?  Or just a reactive emotion to the thought of the battle?  Yeah,
it is the latter.  I was being a bit over extensive there.  But pushing
things to their obviously absurd conclusion is the way to truth, isn’t it?
So does this answer my question of the pulverization of a rock too? 
This seems important since you theorize that the very dirt of a
battlefield would retain some consciousness of the activities that
happened on it.

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By Shenonymous, February 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment

BR549 also asks, “Did you ever ?see that episode on a nature show
where elephants were groping the remains of another dead ?elephant
in almost a sense of reverence?”  What exactly could “in almost a
sense of reverence?” be?  Or maybe less tense, what would or could
it be like?  Or maybe that was just some human’s sentimentality. 
How would anyone know what was going on in the mind of an
elephant?  Maybe the elephants smell something with their long
proboscises of the remains of their colleagues so that they could
remember where they ought to go to pass away?  That is just as
plausible an explanation.  The raw senses (i.e., smell, touch, taste, etc.)
it would seem drives most of an organism’s automatic involvement with
its world.

In 2008, scientists announced they had succeeded in building the first
man-made genome.  Their announcement as that it was the second in
their three-step process to create the first synthetic organism.  So if
this is true, and it is developed, then one would legitimately ask if and
when consciousness entered the configuration?  Would we then know
whether we had a dual world between body and mind or if it was a
body/mind unity?

A case in point: not so very long ago a youngster was killed when
walking down a sidewalk and a slab of concrete fell down.  The
establishment where the chunk fell was closed for a time and many
people visited and deposited flowers, personal notes, etc., in sympathy. 
The store has remained unoccupied for nearly two years now.  It is
theorized that the ”spirit” of the child roamed the space and that no
one wants to disturb it.  Sadly true enough was the heart rendering
event, but the roaming spirit is quite a fiction really.  I say that not out
of cynicism or lack of sympathetic emotion, but because the tenderness
of the moment is still too intense and will be until a generation passes
into history and the new one has no memory of the fatal accident and
someone will occupy the space and will not have any feeling at all about
any ‘spirit’ occupant. 

Another small problem:  According to cosmologists, the universe seems
to be expanding, yet gravity is a force that “draws together,” or the
opposite action of general expansion. Or maybe it just works on a very
local level, i.e., planetary, or galaxial?  The relationship between
expansion and gravity is a very odd relationship, one of opposing
forces.  Magnetism is also a drawing to itself force.  The strong force
works on a close proximity while the weak force works on huge and far
distances.  Also an odd relationship.  Would forces have consciousness?
Then there is also the interesting connection between entropy and
negative entropy. Would neg/entropy be a tendency to order?  And is
gravity a geometric aspect of space time or is it the Einstienian model
that gravity is a topographical contour, or the actual shape of
spacetime? Do these things also have consciousness?  If there are any
particles involved, any packets or bundles of energy then consciousness
according to panpsychism would necessarily be included.  What do ye
think all?

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By Leefeller, February 22, 2011 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

I count the cracks on the sidewalk as I am walking in town, and I avoid stepping on them, because I believe they have a conciseness, actually a conciseness exceeding that of Republicans, though I would not hesitate to step on a Republican, it is debatable Republicans are capable of conciseness exceeding that of rocks!

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By Shenonymous, February 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

Because there is a personal image that interferes with text it is best
to keep the first 10 lines of text to 66 characters including spaces. 
After that you can fill up the width of the preset text box where you
type in your comments.  Yeah this is the only website that does this
and it might have something to do with the personal image but it
seems like it did something similar before the images came into
fashion here.  Also their 4000 character limitation is a PIA.  Yes,
some websites have even less but HP and a few of the big sites have
like maybe 6000 t0 7000.  Oh well, at least TD email notifies when
comments are made to the forums on which you post.

The idea that even a speck of dust has consciousness borders on
psychoneurotic hysteria.  A tidy universe?  Well that does solve having
to think much about reality.  I suppose it is such a puzzle how non-
organic material like photons and electrons and even smaller particles
can evolve to build entities that do have consciousness.  And it is still
the debate that is raging for centuries, but dogmatic acceptance of one
side’s view or the other, panpsychism versus physicalism, locks down a
mind to further investigation.  And Chalmers does have a point that
“current physics characterizes its underlying properties (such as mass
and charge) in terms of abstract structures and relations, but it leaves
open their intrinsic natures,” meaning their being either a physical/non-
physical duality or monistic. To get on to which it is, it seems necessary
to determine what is the nature of things in themselves as Chalmers
criticizes Russell doesn’t actually tell us. We learn from physics that
opposite charges attract each other and like charges repel; that the net
charge of any isolated system never varies, but what charge is itself,
separate from what it does is something is not taught.”  Just a small
digression, I wonder if knowing what things are in themselves is
possible given the nature that absolute knowledge about a thing is neot
accessible?  I further wonder if it isn’t a moot point? 

It is just possible for me that Russellian physicalism may have some
traction.  I would say neither side has conclusively solved the riddle of
whether there are zombie worlds or the panpsychologist view, that
there are not.  Chalmers’ complaint is that the nature of properties are
not understood, but I would disagree.  My understanding of physics is
that we know it is all energy, that the property of color is light energy
frequency, photons and electrons. Sound also is described as frequency
or surges and relaxations of pressure through the medium of air or
water or even some solids and the medium also plays a part in
determining the kind of sound made. Trigonometry and understanding
frequency and wavelength (the distance in space or duration in this
case, that abstract notion ‘time,’ that a wave packet of particles travels
in the frequency limited wave path and wave height, that is, intensity
required to complete a full cycle of a frequency is helpful in “seeing”
how frequency occurs and what is meant by the associated attendant
terms. Frequency describes the number of waves that pass a fixed place
in a given amount of time. Put more simply, the definition of frequency
has to do with the number of cycles per unit of time.  The composition
of the particles in the wave packets determines if the wave indicates a
color or a sound.  Also physics about photons and their habit of
traveling from their source of origin are involved. It seems Chalmers is
hazy on what he means by properties. We are also forced to talk about
the phenomenon of time. Which would take a lot more “time” than I
have right now.  Non-theoretical life summons me.

But before I take leave (I will be Schwarzenegger back!) I am curious
what you think an energetic signature is?  Are we having fun?  I am.  I
have more questions for you too, but later.

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By BR549, February 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment

Sorry for extreme right ragged presentation. For some reason, the word wrapping on TDs threads is inconsistent with what you type in the box. This is the only site I have this problem on.

Anarcissie,
I too do not believe they are separate. It kinda flies in the face of what many psychics and healers have discovered over the years in that the different aspects of the physical body also have auras.

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By BR549, February 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment

Shen,
Wow, loving this tangent!

You bring up some very good points. While I regret that I haven’t read your list of authors, let me
bring up a few scenarios so that we have a framework for further discussion. When a dowser targets a
specific item, there are a number of reasons why they tune in to it. For example, when we attempt to
“look” for something, what some are doing is looking for the last energetic signature that was left by
a human that recognized an object worthy of remembering. That “awareness” on the part of the
human as to the presence of the object creates a fingerprint, if you will. The Yorktown battlefield in
Virginia has some horrific memories associated with it, buried in the soil. The trees there, today, are
all too young to “remember”, if I can use that word, what happened there, so at what level does the
memory occur? Does that memory more easily surface for members of a species within which an event
had been remembered? And to get at the last part of that last question, would humans more naturally
get the heebie-jeebies in a spot where something horrific happened to other humans? Did you ever
see that episode on a nature show where elephants were groping the remains of another dead
elephant in almost a sense of reverence?

In the case of searching for oil or mineral deposits, the only tie we have to what we are searching for
is a chemical identity, such as a number off the periodic table or some people might be able to use
the end product through some identity on the commodities index. Either way, those folks have a
sense of what they are looking for and when they can use that gift consistently, they get rewarded for
it.

In the dowsing arena, they use the term “remanence” to describe that residual signature that an object
acquires. It might have been Anarcissie who had asked what happens when a rock is split in two. That
would be like trying to locate a missing gold and diamond earring with the diamond missing. It might
be easier to first recognize the assembly of both items together but then ask for the location of only
one component. So if Anarcissie’s rock was large enough to be recognized as a planet and then that
planet split in two, what might we then call the fragments? We could call them former pieces of that
planet or someone might get location hits for that planet scattered over millions of miles. Different
people get different results and that’s just the way it pans out. They are usually all correct although
they might seem a bit contradictory to their original question.

I guess what I was trying to get at was that particles in space have the ability to attract one another
and we now call that gravity. It is an attractive force, not to be confused with the subatomic strong
force and weak force

You mention larger pieces having “more power to navigate and exist in the universe” and I would
agree. In a sense, a planet is an elemental democracy, as are asteroids.  The molecules would most
likely not be homogeneously distributed because I believe that, given enough time, the elements will
show an affinity to others of its kind within the smelter of a planet’s core. Those “populations” of like
molecules have an identity, not unlike members of an Amazonian tribe. I, myself, find it hard to
believe that the coalescing of the same elemental “star stuff” would have taken place in space; rather
that it needed the currents within a cauldron to reunite elements with their elementary brethren .....
so to speak.

All these authors you mention sound very interesting, and I will write the information down that you
have given me, but I think this is where the Amazonian tribal member may have one over on us
because he is probably more in a state of actually being and not having to question it all or analyze it
as we humans tend to do when we teeter on that threshold of losing our awareness of that divine
connection.

And on we go .....

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By Anarcissie, February 22, 2011 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

I like the neat way panpsychism solves the mind-body problem.  None of this mysteriously running along together: they are one and the same, viewed from two different angles.

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By Shenonymous, February 22, 2011 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

BR549 - If rocks had a consciousness in the way you believe,
that implies a great deal.  May I ask a few questions.  First, to
have consciousness does that further imply awareness?  If so,
then awareness a synonym for consciousness.  But to be aware
of anything, does that not further imply memory for without
memory consciousness is inoperable?

If you don’t have a copies, you might thoroughly enjoy Hofstadter’s
1981 book “The Mind’s Eye” and Daniel Dennett’s 1996, “Kinds of
Minds.”  The former is a collection of fascinating stories by a variety
of authors about human and artificial intelligence. I am not insinuating
that rocks, if they have consciousness, has artificial intelligence.

In order for a rock to have consciousness it would seem necessary to
have a composition of molecules that self-replicated so that as the rock
eroded its matter from spatial movement it would retain consciousness. 
Retaining consciousness would also seem to have some sustaining
mechanism.  If that did not happen then the implication is that every
molecule of the rock had consciousness.  In that case there are an
infinite number of sizes of consciousness that can combine in various
configurations and decombine leaving a most confusing kind of
consciousness in a panpsychistic universe.  Does the consciousness of a
small piece of rock have the same force as larger pieces, and if so does
the one with more consciousness then have more power to navigate
and exist in the universe? But power to do what? In this case don’t we
need a cogent working model of what consciousness is since it appears
there are several accounts?  Nagel’s idea of panpsychism is an
interesting one that would take all the matter and anti-matter of the
universe that apparently was created at the same time would be still
around having passed through changes, then there’s the
electromagnetic theory of consciousness, that insists that the
electromagnetic field that is generated by the brain is the actual carrier
of conscious experience. While not needing to resort to Descartes
dualism, it is the ubiquity of panpsychism that leaves it vulnerable to
absurdity. Panpsychism is a primitive a doctrine that can be traced back
to animism that universally was accepted by our human ancestors, and
in which children can be seen to spontaneously believe.  Animism has
to do with the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the
universe itself possess souls that may exist separate from material
bodies.  It promotes such religious practice as ancestor worship which
led eventually to deity worship for primitive minds looking for
explanations of the strange world in which they found themselves.

Then there is Dennett’s multiple drafts model that theorizes there is no
single central place where conscious experience occurs. The brain is a
bundle of semi-independent agencies.  His view of consciousness is an
apparently serial account for the brain’s underlying parallelism.
Parallelism is a theory related to dualism which suggests that although
there is a correlation between mental and physical events there is no
casual connection. The body and mind do not interact with each other
but simply run alongside one another, in parallel, and there happens to
be a correspondence between the two but neither cause each other.
This puts me into recalling Levin’s book “The Body’s Recollection of
Being.” 

Dennett asks what kinds of minds are there? Ands asks if there are
kinds, how do we know?  He thinks that both questions have to be
answered at the same time and his book was written to say why he
thinks so.  BTW: there are 110 pages on consciousness on Wikipedia.
The notion of consciousness in rocks sort of reminds me for some odd
reason about the brain in a vat story.  Or some of Jorge Borges’s
fantastic stories. 

And the debate goes on and on and on…

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By BR549, February 21, 2011 at 1:09 am Link to this comment

Shen and Anarcissie,

Shen, I agree, Binet didn’t discuss rocks; that was something I had realized through years of dowsing, and something many dowsers would understand, but he was at least aware of the connection between the evolutionary development of organisms and their potential for increased consciousness. Now, after having said that, I would ask you to just work your way back through evolution to try to find a point where we can say that evolution had no part. As you seemed to refer to, Binet had made the assumption that because there was no cellular structure there was no mind, but further, that it was because of the material being inorganic. Perhaps it might have been because of the lack of understanding about amino acids, as well as a little missing technology. While a few amino acids had been isolated in the early 1800s, they weren’t even classified as a group until a decade after Binet’s writing. Thus, it is my belief that had Binet waited a bit longer to research the issue, he might have then been able to speculate further into the microcosm. I just don’t think enough was known at the time to take that next necessary step downward or inward.

Bacteria may be around 1 micron in size, with viruses being roughly 1/50th to 1/2 that size, but while amino acids had been previously discovered, they could not be “observed” under a microscope. So, it seems reasonable to assume that Binet was trapped in a technological void, waiting for the advent of the electron microscope and later the discovery of DNA.

Now, to really get oweird is the concept of the 12 strand DNA that is talked about in more esoteric circles. As an example, and along that line, think of how long New Age psychics had been talking about the “crystalline core of the Earth”, when science had for so many years talked of it being molten. I remember reading an article in SciAm in the early ‘90s that mentioned in a small article in the back of an issue that when these two scientists had taken seismographic data from previously noncompatible storage sets from all over the globe, the conclusion they drew was the that the Earth’s core was at least behaving as if it were a crystal even though they knew it to be molten. See: http://www.psc.edu/science/Cohen_Stix/cohen_stix.html  (this is the latest on that topic, now scientifically almost 18 years old)
Something to think about, if for no other reason than as an exercise in human thinking.

As humans, we often make the mistake of trying apply our sense of consciousness onto other aspects of nature. Not saying anyone was doing that here, but I just wanted to point that out. Just as in the binary, hexadecimal, and ASCII example I had posted, I think we need to make changes in the way we think about life, matter, or anything, when we keep trying to explore deeper and more unfamiliar turf.

BTW, I was listening to an NPR interview today about a chimpanzee named Lucy, who used sign language. With her researchers wondering whether she was able to only mimic words in sign, could she actually formulate words for herself, and without her having learned the word for onion, her response after eating one was “hurt, cry, food”. Imagine what the blue whales might be wanting to tell us, or any species, really.

To everyone else, sorry for the digression.

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By Anarcissie, February 20, 2011 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

Even given a theory of panpsychism, rocks still might not have the unitary consciousness of animals and possibly plants and microorganisms, since they appear to lack the sort of internal structure which would allow information to pass around in them.  There does not appear to be much difference between a rock split in two and the rock before it was split, except in the way other beings may perceive and objectify it.  The primordial mind-stuff constituting them would remain on a very basic, atomized level.

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By Shenonymous, February 20, 2011 at 2:42 am Link to this comment

BT549 – Having now read most of Alfred Binet’s The Psychic Life
of Micro-organisms, I was delighted to see that Daniel Dennett’s
theoretical treatise, Kinds of Minds, and how minds evolved, had a
progenitor in Binet.  While not in the meter of Alcaic, Binet’s writing
is of the highest almost Aeolic lyrical verse.  He even gets a bit
emotional at times, giving his experimental psychology a very human
quality. 

I didn’t see anything, though, in Binet that suggested that rocks have
a consciousness.  As a matter of fact he says several times that it is
impossible for such inorganic matter to have even the rudimentary
cellular structure that implies mind. Can you expound further on your
theory?

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By Shenonymous, February 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

You have been pleasantly courteous BR549, and I agree we could
have more fun, I certainly have had much of it here.  Many good
sports have surfaced.  Perhaps it is time to move on.  If you really
are not just pulling our collective legs, I offer some parting remarks
… We ultraskeptics could be called Blockheads or better yet, Non-
Rockheads, and given your unwavering path you might have to
include anti-rocks and their anti-communication powers. Describing
someone as insensitive because they might not be able to understand
rock communications seems a bit eccentric to me.  Good heavens, it
is hard enough (pun intended) to understand communications from
ordinary flesh-bound people who speak out loud.  But we will all carry
on as we choose.  Now thinking that was what they were up to, you
have given me a whole new way to remember the pet-rock crazies of a
few decades ago.  See you. perhaps, elsewhere?

Do we really want to ‘save’ the world, or are we just talking about it? 
For what exactly could that mean to ‘save’ the world?  I think one way
to facilitate that is to get rid of mainstream news media as the first
step!  They are a ‘real’ abomination and, in my opinion, as insensitive
and as unintelligent as rocks.

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By BR549, February 7, 2011 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

Shen,
I would also have my doubts about the ability of your carpet fibers, or anyone’s for that matter, but as for rocks and other things that have been allowed to assume their shape through nature’s unique guidelines, I put them into an entirely different category. No, I was actually referring to the capacity for objects to induce the same or similar thoughts in people who were sensitive enough to decode them, whether consciously or otherwise, from their more basal storage form.

My daily life used to revolve around technical journals, SciAm, and the like ..... that was until all ‘this stuff’ started to happen and then there was no going back; something akin to Neo asking Morpheus, “I can’t go back now, can I?” I could give you countless examples but I think we should save that for another discussion and perhaps get back to helping Kulu save the world.

It’s been fun, though.

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By Shenonymous, February 7, 2011 at 2:50 am Link to this comment

Yes, you might, Anarcissie, but that should not let that stop you. 
After all, all smaller than subatomic particles are the same age,
even though at times they seem to go out of existence but oddly
enough show up again, hence given we are made of quarks,
mesons, baryons, leptons and all the hypotheticals like squarks,
and nutralinos, et al, figuratively speaking, we are all as old as the
universe in some extended sense of the word ‘same.’  The particles
when they decay don’t exactly go out of existence, for where exactly
would they go out of existence to?  They simply transform into other
particles.  Funny joke, or is that ‘trick,’ the universe plays on us
conscious entities.  While I think it can be done (Buddhists?), I realize it
might be difficult for some minds to imagine one being something
other than oneself.  It is much easier to envision in the mind’s eye what
it is ‘like’ to be a thing, but then by a philosophical deliberation, when
one wonders what it is to be “like” a something one could see that
there then would be two somethings and one of them would not be
authentic.  Mental experience is much too subjective, actually exactly
subjective so there is no evidence to be had by reason of that either. 
And, paradoxically, no arguments for or against it are reasonable.  Hard
to say that matter is mind (or on the other hand, that mind is matter),
for the sticking question would be, whose mind?  Looking in or looking
out is just a convenient way of trying to imagine an objective Other, or
the reverse, that an Other can imagine you (or me or whomever),
whether that be a world or an individual(s).  I would think electrons do
process information, by a stretch of the definition of process, such as
spin and direction of spin (they spin in one of two directions: up and
down by one model and can point in any direction in another model)
and is determined by a magnetic quantum number. A fascinating book
is online “What is the electron spin” by Gengyun Li. By the way, spin
direction of particles is called an intrinsic degree of freedom!  It
depends on the relative position of the observer to its axis whether the
spin is clockwise or counterclockwise.  I don’t think however electron
processing is an intentional act of the electron, but happens as a matter
of reaction to other factors such as collision. And yes, we are
discussing these things in the realm of probability, which by any
interpretation is not absolute. Blind will to exist is just one way of
putting the genetic programming to survive which is characteristic of
what it means to be alive or existent.

BR549, not intending to generate any disdain in you for me, I have to
say that I get the shivers, both physically and mentally, when anything
psychic is entertained for any reason. If you were to say that my
carpeting fibers have a memory, that is just a special way of saying the
fibers will return to their original springiness if mashed down.  I would
hardly say the fibers were psychic though. I understand your thesis
about non-sentient things, like rocks, or other such things, carrying
information and you do weave a fascinating explanation.  More
convincing argument however is needed to show that inanimate things
hold memories in the way humans and other living organisms do, i.e.,
organisms that do not have a brain, but have ganglia as their sensing
system, may or may not avoid pain or killing apparatuses.  Anyway I
find such topics interesting to reflect on.

I have another idea of why people are losing touch (it seems you
included everything) so can we say with the reality of Other?  For next
time.

I am not of the mind to consider PFC Manning as those here might or
might not agree with me so I will leave it be for now.

kulu said, ”Keep up your lively debates which have now gone beyond
me. I’m off to fix the world.”
  We will notice when you do!

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By kulu, February 6, 2011 at 11:45 pm Link to this comment

Keep up your lively debates which have now gone beyond me. I’m off to fix the world.

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By Anarcissie, February 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous—The problem with the question ‘What is it to be a bat?’ as opposed to ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ is that to answer the first we might have summon up the entire universe.  After all, ‘everything’ impinges in some way on the bat’s existence, physical and psychic.  We recognize immediately that that is an impossible task for finite beings in finite time using finite channels of perception and communication.  So we ask, ‘What is it like to be a bat?’  I think this question, too, is unanswerable, but we can have some fun trying to track it down; it does not throw us against the wall from the get-go.

The evidence for panpsychism is our mental experience.  We experience one and only one instance of matter from the inside out: our bodies.  We can call the basis of that experience ‘mind’.  All other beings are experienced from the outside in.  The overwhelming evidence, then, is that matter is mind.  Matter is mind when looking from the inside out; mind is matter when looking from the outside in.

I’m avoiding terms like ‘conscious’ and ‘aware’ because these suggest information processing; probably, electrons do not process much information, as their physical structure appears too simple to perform such feats.  I am thinking of something more primitive, something like a blind will to exist.

So as not to leave Mr. President’s hogwash entirely behind, when you leave these Empyrean realms, you might want to consider the case of PFC Manning, also the subject of an article on or linked from this web site.  I think it’s important.

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By BR549, February 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment

Shen,
I understand your point about intentionality; ..... I think I was intentionally trying to avoid it.  :o)

Anyone who has seriously delved in the psychic arena knows that physical objects can hold memories, at least as far someone totally unrelated to an event being able to recall some sense of that event through some object affected also by the event, but if that is so, perhaps the reason we have a difficult time in understanding what is being retained could be explained through the following example:

You made a statement in your previous post about rocks. I contend that they can retain information but deciphering that information isn’t something that everyone is aware of how to do. For many people, it’s usually an accident and then they usually dismiss the concept as a day dream, a brain fart, or whatever. But let’s say for one moment that what we are attempting to ‘read’ is in a form that is so primordially visceral that the average person dismisses it as that meaningless mind chatter. What if we are being constantly bombarded with that 24/7 and so that we don’t go insane, we learn to tune the vast majority of it out.

That rock might have been carrying the following thought from something someone had said, (but in practice the events we are able to recall tend to be those that stand out, are catastrophic or violent. I just use the following for an example):
———->  “01001001 00100000 01101000 01100001 01110110 01100101 00100000 01100001 00100000 01101000 01100001 01110010 01100100 00100000 01110100 01101001 01101101 01100101 00100000 01100001 01110011 01110011 01101001 01100111 01101110 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101001 01101110 01110100 01100101 01101110 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 01100001 01101100 01101001 01110100 01111001 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110010 01101111 01100011 01101011 01110011”


Perhaps the trees, or even the paramecium, could have interpreted the vocal sound signals as a series of ‘patterns’, not unlike Cleve Baxter’s experiments with his office Dracaena back in the’60s, as follows. It’s easier to see
———->  “49 20 68 61 76 65 20 61 20 68 61 72 64 20 74 69 6d 65 20 61 73 73 69
67 6e 69 6e 67 20 69 6e 74 65 6e 74 69 6f 6e 61 6c 69 74 79 20 74 6f 20 72 6f 63 6b 73”


To humans, they would have heard your statement as you spoke it above, only they would have heard the following:
———->  “I have a hard time assigning intentionality to rocks.”


All of these statements say the same thing, but the level of encoding is similar to how infants and toddlers bury their family’s hidden secrets and anger, the stuff no one dare discuss. It’s no wonder then why, as adults, we can rarely remember things past the age of 6 or 7, or the transition from the limbic to the cognitive memory development.

Put another way, the following word would seem a cumbersome annoyance to all but some bored autistic if it were written in binary:
01101100 01100101 01110110 01100101 01101100

but in hexadecimal, the patterns tend to jump out at us as:
6c 65 76 65 6c

and then we see it for what we know it to be:
the palindrome, “level”

So, to make a long story short, I believe that is why so many people are losing touch, not only with themselves but with each other and everything around them, including the planet. (I’ll bet you were wondering what the hell it all had to do with politics.)

That’s why I had voted for Haglun in 2000. Maybe I threw my vote away but I’m still holding that candle for a candidate who doesn’t lie.

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By Shenonymous, February 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

Yes, I have Searle’s The Rediscovery of the Mind, that I got after
reading Bruno Snell’s The Discovery of the Mind.  I also have not
quite finished reading the very accessible in terms of readability,
Daniel Dennett’s Kinds of Minds, finding all of them quite a good
banquet on the subject.  It has been awhile so all are worth reviewing
if not rereading entirely.  What are your thoughts on the idea of
intentionality, MaxShields?  You are the only one I know of who even
heard of and possibly entertained the idea.  Then there is socialist,
Richard Wolin’s, very good book on The Seduction of Unreason. but it
is more political-psychology bound than philosophical in its treatment
of mind.  Still “thought” provoking though.

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By MaxShields, February 6, 2011 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

Intentionality. Now you’re onto John Searle. Read his “Mind” A Brief Introduction.

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By MaxShields, February 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous

The Tree of Knowledge (Varela, et al) is not biblical in content. It is very much a biologically oriented text that simply needs to be read and appreciated on its own merits.

For me the work of Varela is profound. I had not studied phenomenology, his works are a synthesis of a deep scientific exploration and inspired by Buddhism. He wrote the Embodied Mind with a umber of researchers. I don’t believe one can digest that text in one reading. Patience. Good to start with the Tree of Knowledge first.

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By Shenonymous, February 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment

I happen to think some digressions are a sign of excellence and
Socratic in the sense that we follow a thought where it leads. 

Intentionality is something I think has much to do with
consciousness and that the two rocks might be conscious of
their proximity in their approach to one another, if and only if
they have any intentionality to do so.  Otherwise, their interaction I
believe would be wholly accidentally.  I have a hard time though
assigning intentionality to rocks or a panpsychic to all things that
exist for what is the justification for such beliefs?

The loss of connectedness is another subject that has been discussed
by many sociologists and might be worthwhile considering in a group
think?

”It is reasonable to ask not only ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ but also
‘What is it like to be a paramecium?’ or even ‘What is it like to be an
electron?’  Of course these questions would be unanswerable even if we
knew the answers, but I will be interested to see Binet’s meditations on
the paramecia.”
  I have always thought the better question is what is
it to be a bat, what is it to be a paramecia, what is it to be an electron,
rather than what is it like to be each of those.”  I think errors could be
slipped in by imposing personal biases when asking what it is like
to be anything. It has to do with understanding from a personal identity
or existential view rather than a hypothetical analogous equivalence. 
Using the Eiffel Tower as an example, What it would be like to be the
Eiffel Tower might be like being metal struts bolted together getting
chipped or dirty by visitors, or being useful as a tourist attraction,
whereas Being the Eiffel Tower one would understand more than just its
composition or its uses.  I think it has to do with essentiality and
accidentality.  One point of view is from outside the other from inside. 
One is an intellectual representational the other is experiential.

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By BR549, February 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

Shen,

I have often used the analogy of two rocks drifting through space toward each other to illustrate consciousness. As they approach each other’s area, each one alters the course of the other if only by a small degree. Now most people will argue that since each one’s response is totally passive, it doesn’t imply any degree of consciousness, but what if we’ve had it all backwards all this time and the two rocks had it right? Maybe we haven’t evolved all that far after all since, after all our self adulation, we still think it’s all about “us” being conscious. Maybe it was about the rocks all along and that until we understood that, we were to continue struggling on this physical plane.

It begs one to revisit what we call consciousness and how far back we can say it really started. 4.5 Billion years, 15 Trillion, or most likely infinite.  We make the mistake, I believe, in thinking that consciousness is solely where we are aware of something enough to ‘consciously’ respond to it. We may dismiss the nightly news as rubbish, but viscerally, over the last 20-30 years, we have known something was terribly wrong, and while we may chose to ignore what has been happening, our bodies have not. We reset our homeostatic bar to accommodate the changing levels of stress, but it is rarely at the conscious level because, had we been conscious about it, we would have picked up our pitchforks a long time ago and the Capitol steps would have been painted red.

I think what many people have come to experience is the loss of connectedness to their neighbors and community, that bond, through some larger ideal held in common. Those idiots in Washington know this is happening but either can’t or won’t do anything to stop it. We had that bond at one point in this country and while many others were still believing in it, voting for it, working for it, and sending their children off to die for it, somehow, we wound up with these amazing social misfit chicken-hawks “managing” our country, who had long ago lost any connection to the rest of the people on this planet.

After all the banter, it seems the lesser understood or discussed issue is why we are all here on TD, knowingly sparring with each other, yet still all concerned about the same issues.

I digress.

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By Anarcissie, February 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

BR549—I was a little bit suspicious of Binet’s notion of vitalism.  I don’t think we need anything extra in the physical world to account for life.  As for mind, my theory is that mind is one aspect of existence which applies to everything that exists—I think this is called panpsychism or animism—and so it is reasonable to ask not only ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ but also ‘What is it like to be a paramecium?’ or even ‘What is it like to be an electron?’  Of course these questions would be unanswerable even if we knew the answers, but I will be interested to see Binet’s meditations on the paramecia.

Shenonymous—I investigated parecon, as they call Michael Albert’s thing, several years ago.  I found, based on the blogs and forums associated with it, that about twenty times as many people wanted to talk about it as do it.  Subsequently I visited some communards of my acquaintance and asked them what they thought of the idea, but at the time of my asking they had not even been able to establish a cooperative with other communes for the exchange of goods and services and the economies of scale available with group purchases and sales, so the more tightly bound structure of parecon seemed to be beyond their grasp.  This, of course, is the voluntary, anarchistic approach; Albert himself is amenable to a governmental/state implementation as well, that is, ‘socialism’, imposed by force.  I think the main thing was to show that there could be an economic system that wasn’t capitalist and wasn’t centrally controlled (‘socialism’ in the minds of right-wingers).

Oh, dear, more topic drift.  I must stop.

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By Shenonymous, February 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

BR549, I was also excited about the book you recommended,
Binot’s, and also ordered it and look forward to reading it.  In a
way, it reminds me of Julian Jaynes, The Origins of Consciousness
in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
.  Jaynes cites Binet in his
book, not in the most complimentary of terms particularly in
assessing Binet traipsing into (but noting that Binet traipsed back
out) the effects of magnets and brain activity in a book, Le
Magnetisme Animale
(1897).  This is not to say Jaynes’ thesis
was accepted within the field.  And I admit after reading his book
to finding his conclusions somewhat preposterous. However it seems
some of his theories have been confirmed by several empirical studies
and apparently some philosophers found his ideas well justified.  A
disagreement arose between philosophers Ned Block and Daniel
Dennett over whether a ‘concept’ of a thing was required before it was
cognized and if that possibility may have confused Jaynes.  But actually
there has been very little criticism of his theory.  So thank you BR549
for putting us on the trail of some interesting reading. 

The Varela/Manturana text also looks an amazing read, MaxShields,
and I’ve ordered it as well.  I have a bit of consternation with its title,
The Tree of Knowledge, if it is to refer directly to the Biblical account of
the Garden myth, only in that the tree was really a tree having
knowledge of ethics and morality, The Tree of Knowledge of Good and
Evil.  The other tree was for everlasting life.  And I have a few
sentiments on both those trees as well as the Garden story.  But again
that would be another digression which I think is better for some other
time, forum???  But thank you too MaxShields.  There are a few books
on this subject that I also found extraordinary, such as Ornstein’s The
Evolution of Consciousness… I really love the illustrations and his style
of writing on such a philosophic/scientific history of the mind.  After a
wonderful quote from Rumi, Ornsteins’ first sentence of Chapter 1 is,
“The mind is a squadron of simpletons.  It is not rational, it is not well
designed—or designed at all.  It just happened (which I completely
agree with and is consistent with Darwinism), an accumulation of the
organisms that lived before us…”  As a result of evolution over millions
of years, the celebrated triumph of humanity is its rationality, the ability
to reason through events and act logically,… also citing Daniel Dennett,
“When a person falls short of perfect rationality… there is not
coherent…description of the person’s mental states.”  Ornstein goes on
to suggest that it might be an injustice to consider the mind as solely,
primarily, rational…and gives further thoughts to what more it is.

The next big thing I ran across was the concept of participatory
economics and a book by a fellow, Michael Albert, Parecon:  Life After
Capitalism that seems an intriguing idea that I am now looking into. 
One reviewer however recommended another book on the same topic,
The ABCs of Political Economy, Robin Hahnel a explaining the moral
foundations of parecon’s system or repayment.  It might be worthwhile
to check out this notion of a system that would correct all the pimples
and warts of both capitalism and socialism.  I am not sure I am ready to
abandon either completely but I am ready to listen to other arguments
of why they should be eclipsed, or fixed, or how and why other systems
might work better and where they have.  This is a very big country to
try to fool around with its economy.  And would be very difficult and no
quick repair in any case.

Other than that, I am enjoying this kind of interaction on the TD forum
as well.  Perhaps premature in my observation, it seems like we are very
capable of non-bickering, and able for intelligent discussion.

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By Shenonymous, February 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

kulu you might learn to go with this kind of digression since a
forum usually runs its course and most everything that needs said
has been said but the forum lends itself to further intelligent
discussion that many of us do not have within our circle of friends
and acquaintances.  Many of my colleagues iin close proximity in my
profession either do not want to have such discussions or are unable
intellectually.  We TDers (I call us truthdippers, sometimes
affectionately sometimes not) come in many coats, and fall on the
entire spectrum of political views.  It seems to me to encourage
progress we could stop passive aggressive defensive rancor and start
talking about our respective views in a co-educational way so that who
is considered Other begins to understand one’s own views better and
even more, one can begin to understand the Others’.  I don’t see how
we can get beyond partisanship unless such communication happens in
some benign way.  Does that make sense to you?

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By Leefeller, February 6, 2011 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

I feel it can be safely stated, animals usually do not know how to read and write, though they do have their leaders of the pack and followers of the pecking order. Missing from the written word is hand and eye contact along with tone.  This may explain the success of the Right with their Glen Becks and Russ Limbaughs using the advantage of television the visual manipulator of mindless masses. (Tea Baggers?). Even the radio has it advantage with tone of voice. 

I found the previous posts exciting; not for their content,
but for their courtliness and the lack of usual adversity.

Does this mean a possibility of some kind of bonding of the left to the middle? Is it possible the political spectrum of the left could grow to survive seemingly with the same respectful dialog?

I am a skeptic, but it was nice while it lasted, sort of like a one night fling but turning into the blind date from hell. Such memories will last forever, well until one is struck by lightening.

Me suspicions of a political movement from the left, even if it could gather some wind behind its sails, would find independent thoughts colliding.  Unlike the blind lock step unity seen from the right. I will always see the Yin and Yan of freethinking and Religion as templates of examples?

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By kulu, February 6, 2011 at 6:31 am Link to this comment

What was the topic again? The latest state of something address wasn’t it? If the posts hadn’t drifted off topic I would have lost interest a long time ago. After all the man, Obama, lost creditability a long time ago and along with that many lost any hope for a positive shift in America’s policies towards addressing the very serious environmental, social justice and economic issues facing the world.

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By BR549, February 5, 2011 at 10:47 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie,
Binet is a short read, but a mind blower when we try to think back, wrongly assuming that they had no idea about the concepts that we take for granted today. Their minds were still working full tilt; it’s just that the technology hadn’t caught up to them yet.

I found it striking in that people today are too quick to think that only the thoughts of today have any relevance and yet most people in today’s society haven’t got a clue what he was getting at. What if the framers of the Declaration and the Constitution were just as savvy about the workings of man as Binet was about the workings of infusoria? Toqueville’s commentary was only 50+ years before Binet’s.

Well, I have to hit the books, I’ve been heading a community discussion group on the History of the Constitution and I have to get my articles in order for the next session. That’s what I decided to do to get the word out ....... (lest I be chastised for sitting on my butt and only bitching about things through my keyboard).  :o)

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By Anarcissie, February 5, 2011 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment

Fascinating stuff, BR549!  (I immediately obtained the book from Google.)

I shall now refrain from further topic drift.  Back to our consideration of the washing of hogs….

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By MaxShields, February 5, 2011 at 7:03 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

Embodied mind is both the title of a book by Varela and a way of describing the union between mind/body. As a cognitive scientist and immunologist, Varela’s work is not always easy to digest. His philosophical underpinning is phenomenology, primarily the works of Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism. He was from Chile, but taught at Berkeley. He past away in his early 50 in 2001.

He and Humberto Maturana wrote the important and more accessable book - The Tree of Knowledge. In that book they lay out cognition as an emergent phenomenon that is experienced by all living things, not just human, not just animal. It is a physical inter-play with the world. In a sense it is a co-creation of the world with the world.

Linguistics is embedded in this physical emergence. Hand motions, for example, illustrate the physical aspect of speaking. All that we are, our reasoning, our feelings, and in an important sence our cognition is shaped by our physical interaction with the world.

I strongly suggest that you become familiar with Varela if you a serious student of cognitive sciences, and linguistics.

My interests are to avoid compartmentalization of thinking….Wendell Barry.

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By BR549, February 5, 2011 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

Shen and Max,
It has been an enjoyable topic, indeed, certainly one where I would normally be focusing on.

About twenty years ago, I acquired a copy of French scientist Alfred Binet’s work, “The Psychic Life of Micro-Organisms”, written in (get this) 1888.

We may think people were only struggling with getting things to roll or get off the ground back then, but it is clear from this work that at least some people were aware that intuition played a big part in evolution. That, I believe, more so than the combined precursor for touch and hearing, was our first sense, not our sixth.

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By Shenonymous, February 5, 2011 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

I believe MaxShields we have more or less covered your elucidating
points and that we probably have gone off topic, which I warned
could happen a few posts back, but the appetite to side track a bit,
and it really is only a bit, beckoned us to walk this perhaps odd
line of dialogue.  But it is welcomed by me to have another add to
the conversation. Our thought can only be enriched further.  I doubt
anyone could argue against that?

I say thank goodness for the millennia (not just for a thousand years
but more than 2000) of philosophical diatribes (though harangue or
tirade is a bit of an excessive criticism), as clarity of thought is so much
needed that can easily be seen in the sloppy thinking and speaking
habits of most humans, just assess most of those you come in contact
with yourself. 

What I should like to know from you, and I do often appreciate your
thoughts though I know the feeling is not mutual, (it’s all right, I’m not
easily offended), but when you say you think of cognition in terms of an
embodied mind, would you please say what you mean?  I only ask since
the notion of mind is itself most elusive and I have been on the track of
it for at least a couple of decades (so have all of these diatribal
philosophers (said in all humor)). Embodiment of mind is an absorbing
subject.

George Lakoff has been one of my demigods of metaphorical thought
for many years and shall have to look up his early thinking for I did not
go beyond the few books of his I have in my library which are from his
now later life.  To understand thinking as a mental phenomenon, I think
you are correct that it is a physical and emergent aspect of what we
might call ‘the mind.”  Mind is defined generally as the reasoning
faculty, which thinks, judges, understands, and more or less shepherds
(logically orders) these human functions of which language is also one
of its innate capacities due to the unique development of the human
brain.  I say unique only because although other non-human animals
do also to a degree thinks, judges, and understands, it is to a much
more limited degree, else we would be more in competition with
whales, chimps, bonobos, and elephants (said to have incredible powers
of memory) than we already are.  I will check out Francisco Varela’s The
Embodied Mind.  You might check out The Body’s Recollection of Being,
by David Michael Levin who writes that as by-products understanding,
reasoning, etc., comes through non-linguistic means.  Through the
experience of being in the world.  His is a uniquely different discussion
about the embodiment of thinking.  I can see from Levin’s theory an
evolutionary pathway from reason to linguistics.

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By MaxShields, February 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

I do think (while interestingly and excessively off topic) the issue of linguistics, reasoning and the millenium of philosophical diatribes can take one boundlessly hither and yon without ever reaching a sober conclusion.

But if one ventures down the road of cognition than I have found it to be most illuminating to “think” in terms of an embodied mind. That is thinking is physical and emergent. It does not rest in a cerebral cortex as an abstract. Afterall the cortex is a physical mass of tissue. And language need not be of the kind we humans possess, but can best be understood through a wide variety of means to communicate throughout all living things. There is a universiality which is primal, and not unique to the human species.

Check out Francisco Varela or earlier George Lakoff (before he got into the politics of framing) if you haven’t already.

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By ardee, February 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

Just a note to say I enjoyed this repartee between our two resident intellectuals vis-a-vis language and its roots.

I am out of my depth here but only note that mankind seems yet unable to truly communicate even though there are approximately 6900 different languages extant today.

As Churchill noted about the UK and USA, we are separated by a common language. Anyway, thanks for the uplifting discussion. Have I made myself clear?

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By Shenonymous, February 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

It could be we are traveling down different paths and completely
only en passant touching on the notions of reason and language. 
But I don’t really think so.

I notice you do not really counter my arguments but use instead an
additional one that does indeed add to the discussion but does not
further it.  Is that because you intuit that reason is primary to
language?  As noted previously but apparently deserves repeating:
Language is considered a syllogistic form of logic.  I don’t argue
that language is not an innate propensity of human development. 
I am only arguing that it is secondary to reasoning, not the essential
state of mentality.

Far as I know, there have been no studies that say birds have calculus
as one of their capabilities.  Well of course humans have developed
words as referents to numbers that they use in counting.  That does
not preclude logic as the ruling principle for ordering numbers in a
particular sequence.  Verbal reference is the entire reason language
exists in the first place.  There have been lots of experiments with
chimpanzees, given that they are the closest primates to humans.  (I
love the commercial that shows a chimp in the drug store choosing cold
medicine.)  The one I cited gives ‘reason’ to believe they have pre-
linguistic reasoning ability.  Would you mind giving the citation of your
chimp experiment?  Also, the resources you use as references for your
claim about syntax since the sources I cited does not agree with your
conclusion.  While all science has a hypothetical element, as science
would be the first to say there is nothing absolute, what you talk about
is all post language formation but does not prove linguistic primacy to
logic.  While I think you tilt at the reason/language windmill, you
certainly may keep trying.

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By Anarcissie, February 5, 2011 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

We may be talking about different meanings of ‘reason’.  For instance, the ability to perceive quantities of separate objects up to a small integer, say five or seven, has been observed in birds, but we humans also can do the same without counting.  By counting I mean learning a sequence of numbers which differ by one in order, and then comparing the sequence to a collection of objects.  I don’t think birds do this.  Humans appear to do counting with language.  Again, many years ago experiments were done with chimpanzees and boxes wherein the boxes had to be piled up in a certain way for the animal to reach food.  Eventually the animal piled up the boxes correctly.  However, I would guess, in the absence of other evidence, that the chimpanzee simply imagined different configurations of the world until one seemed to solve the problem, not that it analyzed the shape of the boxes and then determined how to pile them up through some sort of inductive procedure.  The former, to me, is intuition, and the latter is reason, although imagining and evaluating alternative states of affairs intuitively is called ‘reasoning’ by some people.

Humans may indeed have an innate propensity for language, since the ability to use language would confer an important survival advantage leading to strong selection for it in evolution.  This is evidence in favor of my view.  Some years ago I made an inquiry into the origins of syntax (which is what distinguishes human communication from that of other animals) and the explanation which seemed most reasonable to me was that it was an modification of babbling and other vocalization based on the coding of messages in the nervous system.  For those to be effective (as with email) one needs at least an address, a ‘verb’, and a sequence of modifiers, and they need to be structured so that the relayers and receivers know which is which, just as in a clause or sentence of human language.  Rather than being ‘rational’, this arrangement would arise because it’s the only way you can do it over common channels.  But as the protocols of the nervous system have yet to be explicated, that’s just a hypothesis.

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By Shenonymous, February 5, 2011 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

It strikes me as childish insistence to maintain language comes
before rational thought. I’m prone to think that you are merely
flexing your ability for facile retort. The data available on thought
and language is immense and I’m stunned to think perhaps you
haven’t read it or not very much at best. Language is considered
a syllogistic form of logic deriving from the First Principle of Cause
and Effect.  A good reference: A. Gethin, Language and Thought.

In his linguistic persona, Noam Chomsky ushered us to the idea that
language depends on an innate basis, that we are all endowed with the
same linguistic competence, despite the contingent fact that we speak
different languages. According to Jean-Louis Dessalles, Chomsky had,
naturally, in mind by and large our syntactic ability that allows us to
arrange words in appropriate order.  Said 50 years ago, this idea was
far from obvious, and it is not yet universally accepted.  Putting words
in an appropriate order by definition presupposes a logic or rationale. 
Dessalles further makes what he thinks is an obvious, claim…
“[humans] have a pragmatic competence, which can be formally
described, which is universal and which is unlikely to be learned at
all. It is instinctive logic since anything that is pragmatic automatically
entails a pre-linguistic rational basis.  And, this competence allows us
to use language in concrete situations, to utter relevant arguments, to
be considered a competent conversant.”  But even before linguistic
argument, say at just the guttural level, there is the consciousness that
whatever is said inherently has some meaning and a connection is
made between the grunt if it is toward another which establishes a
language, primitive as it might be.  It is an if/then action, and if/thens
is a structure in reasoning. 

For those in the field, it is common to consider that the content of our
utterances is governed by the general laws of reasoning, that these
laws are by definition not specific to language. According to J. A. Fodor,
in The modularity of mind, the laws of reasoning belong to a central
cognitive system which is still so unspecific that its studies is for the
time being unyielding to the discipline.  According to this view, any
formal universality we might discover in the content of conversations
would be the result of the universality of rational mind, or what
Descartes called `le Bon Sens’.

Let’s take the example of a robot for instance. It runs completely on a
programmer’s language, but that artificial language, or code, is
structured logically. The programmer, or the robot’s artificial god, must
have an algorithm or rules for a definite number of steps that instructs
the robot to perform.  He has to put the “language” in a particular
logical order thereby establishing the priority of logic, which is another
name for a method of reasoning.

There was a huge flurry of studies done in the 70s regarding conscious
thought.  It seemed to be the vogue.  Gordon Gallup, conducted a
fascinating series of experiments, “that chimpanzees can come to
recognize themselves in mirrors, and they can recognize themselves as
themselves as well.  He demonstrated this by putting a spot of paint on
their foreheads while they slept. When they awoke and saw themselves
in the mirrors, they immediately reached up to touch their foreheads
and then examined their fingers.

Another argument is the ability to count, not strictly an ability of
humans, means a pre-linguistic ability to notice self and not self, that
is, self and other without language.  Even before the development of
visual perception, what was to be the human mind was aware by other
sensual stimuli. Its internal logic moved it towards things in its
environment that was propitious for its survival. It was intentional to the
degree you can say a paramecium intends to act on behalf of its
survival.

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By Anarcissie, February 5, 2011 at 2:29 am Link to this comment

You can language without reason, but I don’t see how you can have reason (in the narrow, logical sense of the word) without language.  So I would say language preceded reason.  And it certain preceded logic.

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By Shenonymous, February 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

The study of evolution agrees that organisms develop instinct first
since the necessity of survival of the species was at stake, and I
would say intuition could be called a form of instinct. The reasoning
capacity was an evolutionary development as well, and since it did
develop, it is logical to assume there were natural reasons for it. But
that is not really our argument. Logic most likely developed from the
capacity to make comparisons, seeing similarities and differences
and seeing the effects of doing one thing rather than another.  I
would think that prior to language, that is, in order for language to
have its function of communication, organisms need some device to
know that what is said refers to something another somehow under-
stands and that device is reason, or the rational principle.  For
language to work, it crucially needs a natural stimulus-response
system, intentionality and a commonly shared system but also a self-
referent system to judge (reasoning) whether communication actually
was made.  I’d have to go for the ability to reason as prior to language,
learned from interacting with the world and reasoning about all sorts of
things besides communication with others, such as whether a thing was
safely edible based on experience and seeing that for some of the same
species it did not or did kill them or maybe less virulently made them
sick or not, then stored in memory so that when happening upon the
same food one could recollect its effects.  The kind of reasoning you
seem to be talking about is more evolutionarily sophisticated but it did
have its origins in much more primitive ways.

On the topic, we could discuss both Quine’s Dilemma and Locke’s
Puzzle that has to do with the ability of children and how they come to
know the referent of any communication without already knowing the
“structure of language and/or the meaning of words” which requires the
ability given by using logic and rationality for coherence.  Surely some
instinct is at play, and the intuitive part of understanding.  But it would
also seem that the roots of logic and reasoning is in operation for the
thinking system to be successful and then to notice it was successful. 
Condillac held the view that it is man’s innate ability to reason that
distinguishes him from all animals and initially set him on the path to
language acquisition.  I realize this view is in contrast to Chomsky’s. But
I see Condillac’s point that the power to reason permits the human
mind to reflect on his own actions and to develop language whose
referential powers goes beyond the meanings assigned to given words
in order to then intuit the intent of the speaker.  But that would take
this forum far afield from its topic and probably would be better for
another venue or article that has to do with this intrigue.

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By Anarcissie, February 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, February 3 at 7:08 am:

That Russell was quite a guy.  I love the exchange of Bertrand’s quotes.  “Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.”

Rationalization - to ascribe (one’s acts, opinions, etc.) to causes that superficially seem reasonable and valid but that actually are unrelated to the true, possibly unconscious and often less creditable or agreeable causes, or to invent plausible explanations for acts, opinions, etc., that are actually based on other causes, irrational ones.  ...

There is no “reason” to think instinct and intuition have a more accurate grasp of reality than reason just because those empowered infrequently if ever use it but rather resort to treacheries, distortions and perversions. ...

You mistake my, uh, reasoning.  I did not say that instinct and intuition have a more accurate grasp of reality because the powerful seldom resort to rationalization.  I said that, since few people are cursed with a propensity for reason, the powerful seldom bother with it, and hence reason gives the minority who practice it a possibly useful perceptual tool against their oppressors.  Of course there is plenty of rationalization—one need only take a dose of the New York Times and one will get a lifetime supply—but it’s not prominent.

If I wanted to give an argument for the greater competence of instinct and intuition I would note that they developed first in evolution.  Clearly, if logic, which at base is fairly simple-minded, were conducive to survival in giving a better picture of reality, it would have evolved first.  We would observe the paramecia at it, probably.  Instead, we don’t see rational mental processes developing until the appearance of language and complex social organization as a sort of accidental byproduct.  The greater power of intuition has been confirmed in my life experience; generally, when my reason and intuition have been in conflict, experience proved intuition to be correct.  However, they mostly play on different fields.  We don’t expect reason to cause us to jump out of the path of a oncoming truck, or detect lying in our associates, nor do we expect intuition to discover that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides of a right triangle, which is sometimes of considerable use.  Although one could intuit a fair approximation.

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By Leefeller, February 3, 2011 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

“Those who “think” that because their house wasn’t burning yesterday that there’s no emergency, while it is burning down around them today, have no capacity to reason.”

Answer, the reason to purchase corporate fire insurance?

Just because something did not happen yesterday, means it will happen today and the incapacity to use reason has something to do, with being struck by a meteor?

Meteor insurance?

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By Leefeller, February 3, 2011 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

As for marauding hoards, desperately scouring the planet for sustenance of the last crocodile, luckily for me,.... my marauding and scouring for the last crocodile will be unimpeded by the last pious and I can safely predict annoying vegetarian.

So it is my prediction of certainty, the last vegetarians last supper, will be interrupted by having to desperately scour the planet for the last tofu turkey.

They say crocodile tastes just like turkey….. thankfully not like tofu!

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By David J. Cyr, February 3, 2011 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Those who “think” that because their house wasn’t burning yesterday that there’s no emergency, while it is burning down around them today, have no capacity to reason.

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By Shenonymous, February 3, 2011 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

kulu - you are so dramatic.  Not to worry, humankind is very
inventive.  Besides the corporations have to find some way to
keep their stockholders happy.  The end of the world has been
predicted for millennia.

From a 2800 BCE Assyrian tablet, “The Earth is degenerating
today. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer obey
their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident
that the end of the world is fast approaching.”

and besides

As Charles Schultz, the late creator of the comic cartoon Peanuts said,
“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already
tomorrow in Australia.”

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By kulu, February 3, 2011 at 4:44 am Link to this comment

I’m betting on the crocodile which has been around a lot longer than humans will outlast us…or maybe not. Maybe we will eat them all as we, reduced to marauding hoards, desperately scour the planet for sustenance.

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By Shenonymous, February 3, 2011 at 2:08 am Link to this comment

That Russell was quite a guy.  I love the exchange of Bertrand’s
quotes.  “Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, they
do so.”

Rationalization - to ascribe (one’s acts, opinions, etc.) to causes
that superficially seem reasonable and valid but that actually are
unrelated to the true, possibly unconscious and often less creditable
or agreeable causes, or to invent plausible explanations for acts,
opinions, etc., that are actually based on other causes, irrational
ones.

Gullibility: The state in which we are so ready to believe that we are
easily taken in by false claims and spurious ideas.

Charles Fried, Reagan’s Solicitor General, testified at a Senate hearing
on the “The Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act,” that in no
uncertain terms that he is “quite sure that the health care mandate is
constitutional.” 

The Republican rationalized effort to repeal the year-old health care law
ended in party-line defeat in the Senate.

There is no “reason” to think instinct and intuition have a more accurate
grasp of reality than reason just because those empowered infrequently
if ever use it but rather resort to treacheries, distortions and
perversions.  The best minds instinctively and intuitively know that
reason provides pathways not to Truth but to the truth.

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By David J. Cyr, February 3, 2011 at 1:04 am Link to this comment

DEFINITION

natural person
n. a real human being, as distinguished from a corporation, which is often treated at law as a fictitious person.
______________

Presumably, the corporate party voters don’t know what a “natural person” is because they identify with corporate person interests; not the interests of real human beings.

That may also explain why corporate party voters can’t discern the difference between an early hominid and modern humans (or Right from Left). There’s considerable difference between what the way much more rugged early hominids were and what humans are, with the hominid ancestors of todays humans having begun to become behaviorally modern humans somewhere between a disputed range of not less than 50,000 or more than 200,000 years ago (some time more than 50,000 years ago). The stable climate of the present interglacial period required for agricultural, which has been most favorable for humans to flourish, developed within the last 10,000 years… the Age of “Civilization” (some more, some less). If that stable climate becomes unstable (which is becoming), then our now overpopulated planet will quickly become unpopulated.

What’s pertinent to the issue of human survival is that one branch of hominids was able to become the frail humans that we are, and yet survive, because climate changes had provided an environment very favorable to our evolution (NOTE: evolution is a change that isn’t necessarily always good). If we humans succeed in making the Earth’s climate change to one extremely unfavorable to our continued existence, then although we humans have had great potential we will still be a failed evolutionary experiment… just another dead limb on the hominid tree.

We humans are part of the environment we live in. If we destroy that environment we will destroy ourselves. It only took approximately 100 years for a much smaller demand than today’s is to burn through half of the oil available on the planet. The remainder of the oil will be burned up within a few decades — much of it in wars waged to burn it up faster. The corporate state is also gearing up for water wars, and climate wars. If the corporate (R) & (D) party continues to exist, then humans won’t likely exist much longer than just a generation or two more. If cooperative international socialism doesn’t soon replace competitive global corporatism, then there won’t likely be any natural persons remaining at this century’s end to have any isms.

An avatar is a fictional nonexistent entity that a natural person has chosen to become, rather than remain a real human being. When a natural person becomes an avatar they leave the real world, to not exist in an imaginary other world. To become avatars natural persons commit virtual suicide; they murder the “them” in themselves. The people choosing to become avatars are volunteers in the first wave of human extinction.

There’s nothing more uneducable than an “educated” liberal… especially after they’ve left humanity to become an avatar.

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By kulu, February 3, 2011 at 12:59 am Link to this comment

Leefeller.

The idea is to dismantle and dis-empower big corporations and work towards more equality within societies and the world. At the same time GDP as a measure of progress should be ditched and replaced by some sort of human welfare index. Growth both in affluence and population numbers needs to be actively discouraged not encouraged as they are now.

We need to go backwards in order to move forward and take back into public hands the common resources of the people such as water supply and those assets that lead to monopolistic control such as ports rail infrastructure etc. Also big banks and other financial institutions will need to revert into public hands while many medium sized ones could be remutualized (owned by the customers).

Environmental assets need to be rigorously protected and where their exploitation or degradation becomes unavoidable appropriately taxed (eg CO2 emissions). The throw away economy would have to be abandoned completely to preserve scarce resources.

The more I think about it the more changes I realize have to be made and fast but many of them would not be that onerous as they would merely take us back to how thing were 40 or 50 years ago to the times of my not unhappy childhood and youth.

Do I think think these changes can happen? Yes. Will they? No, and even if they did they would probably not be enough. Its all too late I fear and that is why I am not an optimist.

Civilization is suffering from a severe case of Easter Island Syndrome, perhaps we should get Pfizer and the other giant pharmaceutical corporations onto it before we go ahead and down size them.

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By Anarcissie, February 2, 2011 at 11:15 pm Link to this comment

On the whole, instinct and intuition are probably more accurate than reason.  The quality of reason that gives it its special power is that hardly anyone ever uses it, and as a result, those who are in the business of authority and control and therefore of deceit and obfuscation, seldom bother with rationalization; presenting the right images and slogans to people’s instincts is enough to do the job of keeping them under control.

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By ardee, February 2, 2011 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

As Bertie Russell once said, as reminded at one blogsite but with a little modifiction
from moi:  “The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd. Indeed in view of the
inanity of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be blitheringly moronic than actually ponderable.”

One good Russell citing begs another:

“If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance with his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.” from ‘Roads to Freedom’

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By Leefeller, February 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

Being an unnatural person has its merits, I enjoy paying higher prices for Diesel for my unnatural pickup truck.  I too have tried the natural way, like rubbing two sticks together on occasion,..... when I have not paid m my power bilsl on time, I have had to learn how to tie a proper square knot after loosing several pails in my well. After all Billy my pet goat needs his water.  I am not as natural as Sarha Palin, for I have never gutted a Moose while giving birth and nameing my child after one of the Seven Dwarfs.

Baby Boomers?  What War?

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By Shenonymous, February 2, 2011 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

And you, David J. Cyr, the “post” modern Siren is prompted to say
are a parasitic hypocrite who sits comfortably at a postmodern
computer pontificating about a hypothetical future hardly a “natural”
person but one who was manufactured in the womb of the modern
world.  Your hubris is more than excessive conceit.  And so is your
ignorance.

You might do some current reading, humans have inhabited this
planet longer than 60,000 years.  Wooden spears, found by
archeologists, date to 400,000 years old.  You might check out the
Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins. No crystal balls were
found.

A quickie course you can copy to index cards for your immediate
reference:  It goes something like this:
  Universe, about 15,330,000,000 years ago
  Sun, 5,000,000,000
  Earth, about 4.6 billions years ago.
  Humans appear, Australopithecus, 3 Million years ago, Homo    
      erectus and Neanderthals, 340,000.
•  Hunter-gatherer bands, which are generally egalitarian about
      1.8 million years ago
•  Homo erectus, ability to control fire, about 790,000 years ago,
      maybe even as early as 1.5 million predating Homo erectus.. 
•  Modern Humans, Homo sapiens, 160,000
•  Ice Age Civilization, 36,524 years ago
•  The Rule of Mortal Humans civilization 11,600 years ago
•  Nomadic/Horticultural/pastoral societies describes an ancient
      mode of livestock production and in which there are generally
      two inherited social classes; chief and commoner. About 10,000
      years ago.  Still exists today, Nigeria.
•  Civilizations, with complex social hierarchies and organized,
      institutional governments, city-states about 5,500 years ago.
•  Miserable politicians, just a few hundred years.
•  Fatuous and arrogant bloggers, January 26, 2011 (look in the                
      mirror)

You might also stop whining about the corporate state and “do”
something about it instead of merely typing your boorish opinions
on a blog.  There are quite a few types of activism: volunteer,
grassroots, letter writing and petitions, direct lobbying, litigation,
selective purchasing ordinances, ethical investing, economic sanctions,
demonstrations, civil disobedience or other direct action, seek
employment in an activist or volunteer group, encourage the exploited
to defend themselves in promising way, boycott corporate products and
let the corporation know it, etc., etc., etc. 

Some Sirens are highly ejumacated.  You are permitted to call her
Sophrosyne.

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By David J. Cyr, February 2, 2011 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

QUOTE (of an avatar, being a Siren):

“And what if people disappear anyway? The universe has no use for us.”
_____________

That’s an evaluation of human value to be expected of any Siren, whether one from ancient Greek mythology, or a modern Siren of Democrat mythology. It’s also a position completely consistent with support of the corporate party, because the corporate state considers humans to be just another resource like any other resource; something to be profitably used, exploited, consumed and carelessly disposed of, until there’s none of it left.

I don’t live as close to Nature as many in the “undeveloped” world either prefer to or must, but I do live considerably closer to Nature than most Americans do. I’ve directly observed that parasitic pests, which used to only cyclically be a problem for a year or two and naturally disappear for many years before returning again, have now become permanent problems that destructively persist without any natural control anymore.

Unlike the corporate person dedicated, I’m a natural person who does want humans to survive upon this planet. For that to happen, humans have to very soon collectively become far more sensible people than we are now… far more sensible than the corporate (R) & (D) persons’ party wants us to be. We can’t depend upon evolution, because extinction is coming faster than our eventual evolution would have time to provide us a solution.

The climate that seems to not be changing much now (for those people who choose to be willfully ignorant), will be changing at a greatly accelerated pace soon after the fresh water supplying glaciers are all gone, the sun reflecting protection of the arctic caps is melted, and the defrosted permafrost has free released its massive amounts of methane.

Earth has provided humans a habitable environment for over 60,000 years. But our excessive fossil-fuel use has rapidly degraded our safe home environment in less than 2 centuries. That actually quite rapid degradation of environment is accelerating, while the “free-market” prepares to swap bundles of pollution profit derivatives. The environment we all depend upon for life is being campaign “contribution” MovedOn toward sudden collapse.

When everyone later sees the consequences of their not seeing what they should be seeing now, and only then believes it’s time to begin to responsibly respond, it will then be too late to halt the climate catastrophe… too late to even attenuate it. The conservative and liberal corporate collaborating members of humanity are thoughtlessly ensuring corporate gains during the loss of all humanity.

If not fully removed, then like a cancer carelessly killing the host its life depends upon, the global corporate state that now owns nation states will exterminate all its human hosts.

The Boomer Generation enthusiastically and ever activist energetically supported the corporate state. For humans to have a future, the young will need to kill the corporate cancer that near all of their parents have life-long nurtured the metastasis of. The Solution can’t be democracy, because there are too many Democrats.

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By Leefeller, February 2, 2011 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

If one steps back and looks at the whole picture of this self proclamation of a great country of ours, the apparent abuses do stand out like a horn of plenty.

It remains to be seen if defile is a river in Egypt, or the US government once again bribing another pet despots?

Revolution sounds just like dumping the old chamber pot, but it always seems to fill up again.
Mexico has had several revolutions, a refreshing example of chamber pot theory!

I find Cuba an interesting example of a Revolution ending in a despot, only an unsanctioned one.

David J. Cyr or kulu what would a perfect post revolution world be like? (reality please)  History has many examples to choose from, would there be a new society, how is your vision different from Mexico, Cuba, Iran or Iraq, possibly France, pick your perfect society and show me an example?

Hedges every week offers his insight into what is wrong with our government, but I have not seen any recommendations of what or
how to obtain what would be the perfect option. Ralphe Nader? Protesting?

After the dust settles in Egypt what will be? A pure democracy, a republic or something new?

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By kulu, February 2, 2011 at 4:26 am Link to this comment

I’m with you David J.Cyr on your view of the future for the next generation. It is bleak indeed not because it necessarily is impossible to do something about it but because we show absolutely no signs of doing so in any meaningful way. In fact we are, led by America, with Obama now sort of at the helm, going backwards at an increasing rate. Too much passiveness and ignorance on the part of the great majority; Too much fear (legitimate) of those prepared to act to reverse things - fear of the their personal safety and livelihood should they take a chance and overstep the line. These factors coupled with the consolidated power and apparent ruthlessness of the ruling elite and their own blind belief that they can continue to prosper in the face of the collapse they are orchestrating lead me to the conclusion I’ve stated.

Add to this an already overpopulated planet having to absorb ever more hungry or excessively materialistic bodies then, I believe, only a miracle could serve to bring about “salvation”.

Tunisians and Egyptians have broken the fear barrier and taken on their Western supported regimes because most felt they had reached the threshold of what could be gained by not acting and they had virtually nothing left to lose. Emboldened by the masses already protesting, the perceived risk for the middle class to join the revolt fell enough to attract them to that option. Until the populations of the West reach the same degree of despair (which will be too late) things will continue on the road to collapse.

For Ardee and others who don’t think this way I would be happy to be proved wrong but probably will not be around long enough to witness the collapse I foresee even if it is recognizable as such at the time.

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By Shenonymous, February 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

The idea that misanthropes are not part of the entire fabric of our
society and ought not to have the privilege of running free along
with the more, say, enlightened is patronizingly undemocratic. 
But of course, T Jefferson thought democracy harbored the irrational
mob.  Which is why we have a representative constitutional democracy,
which essentially works except in the eyes of those who would obtain
and retain their power and exploitation over the madding mob.  And
effort to resist is our best shot.  I say they need to express their
voices and make mistakes if they make them, as that is how we
learn, by their mistakes and ours.  Darwin knew that.  It wasn’t so
much survival of the fittest as survival of those who avoided mistakes
and went on to propagate with those whose genes avoided, not really
intentionally but accidentally, survived.  Once commingled, though, the
species went on its merry evolutionary way. Such is political action as
well as the paradigm holds for all things that have a life so to speak. 
Seems to me we need the frenzied conservative if only to remind us
not to become too lethargic, complacent.

de Tocqueville had some excellent observations.  That is the nature of
the unsophisticated, uh…uneducated…mob, uh…public to be seduced
into using their own resources to do themselves in.  That is nothing
new though, even de Tocqueville lived in the 19th century.  People have
been taxed throughout history and their money used against them to
benefit the baronial class.  Does that mean it is right for the exploiters
to do it?  No. Right and wrong are ethical and moral issues and
eventually, as we see in Egypt, the hoi polloi will get its act together
and rebellion is afoot to put the exploiters in their rightful place.  That
also is repeated throughout history.

Misquoting Bertie was a fun exercise and if you had any command of
the language, you would see that the sentiment stayed the same.  But
you chafe at anything that puts you in the nasty light that you bask in. 
Name calling is a sure sign of a deficient mind.  You make sweeping
pontifications that have no substance, David J. Cyr.  Why should anyone
believe you?  What is your authority?  There is no such thing as augury,
but then I don’t think you consult the birds although it sounds like you
do.  Simple logic says The Young, The Inheritors of the Earth, will
always be the source of solution.  The state of this planet that will have
no people is only in your dreams.  Eons off and by that time we will
have vacated it for parts unknown in the universe.  We are about to
launch into that exploratory as we breath.  The only thing that will
destroy this planet is when the solar system falls into the galactical
black hole at its center.  And what if people disappear anyway?  The
universe has no use for us.  It just tolerates us because like El Capital,
we are here.  Yes, we will solve our problems or we will not.  As I said,
simple logic.  No sense in obsessing over it.  We will do the best we can
with the collective mind that we have.  And if we don’t make it because
of some aberration like the Republican Party, well so be it.  The young
will find their own paradigm.

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By BR549, February 1, 2011 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

Just a thought, but as we are all slowly further immersed in the collective boiling
pot, one of the things that happens is that we all start picking each other apart.

We’ve all done it, and hopefully, most of us wish we could have reclaimed it after
we had pushed TD’s Submit button.

Somewhere in all that we have to complain about these days, and as much as the
“enemy” always seems to be in hiding as we take out our frustration on each
other, we also have a lot in common.

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By Leefeller, February 1, 2011 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

Interesting, David J. Cyr from his own words, seems to emulate exactly what he despises.

The corporate mentality of winner take all, absolutisms promoted with certainty providing no option of reaching across to others. Seemingly a head first Urological fanatic of grand proportions, one could say with the similar portrayal of age old orthodoxy, blindly believing in a cause of absolute certainty.

My I suggest, there seems little chance of consensus in the grand scale of life.  Even my agreement with many other opinions here means little in the grand scheme of things.

Hopefully David J. Cyr finds an empty table of consensus, for it sounds in his belief, he prefers destroying the forest for the trees,.......a clear cutting example of unreason.

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By BR549, February 1, 2011 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, January 31 at 4:58 pm
“Absolutely - Power corrupts, but it corrupts only those who think they deserve it.”

Therein, I believe, has been the crux of our problem, that individuals who didn’t share the common goal were allowed to run free along with those who were busy enjoying their freedom. These misanthropes were victims of their own lack of connectedness to anything larger than themselves and were allowed to spread their diseased thinking and they were still allowed the freedom to feel separate.

Alexis de Toqueville had remarked about how many Americans were so well informed about their rights and laws, yet later stated, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” He saw the handwriting on the wall back then.

Loved your comment on it. That said it all.

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By David J. Cyr, February 1, 2011 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

By misquoting Bertrand Russell, (D) misinforming Siren avatar mangled Russell’s language, without understanding his message: the belief of a majority is more likely to be foolish than sensible.

Elections in America regularly serve to prove that existing majority opinions are foolish (and usually evil too); none more foolish than the opinion that this or that faction of the corporate party is better than the other… since they work in partnership, together as one.

Boomers have proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, that they will not provide The Solution, so The Problem that their young have inherited is now far greater than it was… and being existential now, it’s as great as it possibly can be. If The Solution doesn’t come from the young, then there will be no Solution needed. People will have no Problem, because there will be no people. The Planet will no longer have its People Problem.

For humans to have a habitable planet, allowing humans to have a future, the young will need to create a newly organized sensible majority that overcomes the old foolish majority, by whatever means necessary. It’s do or die off time now.

The only certainty we can have, regarding how the young might accomplish what they must, is that following the failed formulas of the old perpetually fooled foolish majorities won’t work.

The young will need new means to achieve their new paradigm needed. They will have to provide those for themselves, because the old majority has proven that it cannot be depended upon to provide the sensible solutions needed to sustain life.

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By Shenonymous, February 1, 2011 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

You have your vision David J. Cyr, and I have mine.  I don’t believe
the future is as bleak as you make it out to be.  Yours is a highly
pessimistic outlook that just might actually have a self-fulfilling
prophecy.  If the worse is thought, it is likely the worse will happen. 
One can observe the world has much that is tragic to it, but the
misanthropy that it cannot be made better with some exertion is to
consider misery and hopelessness as the constant condition. One
wonders why you ever get out of bed?  Maybe you don’t have a
bed?  With your bitterness, a vacation to Tahiti with many shots of
tequila might be helpful.  Suggestion:  Take a case of it or enough
for the duration. 

Obama’s kind of power?  Way…ell, kulu, he is the POTUS.  But it looks
like he is a walk-the-wobbly-middle-line power, maybe a one-term
president power, or you-can’t-satisfy-anybody power.  It does appear
to depend on where one is on the spectrum of politics, from extreme
left to extreme right, then the centrists also seems to be pissed off at
him.  He is castigated by all sides.  At least by those bloggers who love
to hate and all sides have them.  Just read all the googles when a search
of his name is made.  Obama is either a socialist or a Nazi or both! 
Insanity rules.  Most of the TV news kingpins are giving him an A+ on
Egypt.  What are Egyptians giving him?  Way…ell, if it’s Mubarack then
it’s an F, if it’s the protestors, it’s also an F.  Kind of a laugh riot. 
Should he take a side?  Liberals think he should be more liberal,
progressives think he should be more progressive, conservatives think
he should just go away, and racist right-wing nuts would just like to
shoot him.  Apparently there was a highly controversial racist art show
in Manhattan that was shut down.  The “artist” who was jailed for a
spell then released, said he was highlighting character assassination
not a physical one!  Yeowie Kazowie, vot andidiotzein!  As Bertie Russell
once said, as reminded at one blogsite but with a little modifiction
from moi
:  “The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no
evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd. Indeed in view of the
inanity of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to
be blitheringly moronic than actually ponderable.”

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By ardee, February 1, 2011 at 6:42 am Link to this comment

David J. Cyr, January 31 at 5:27 pm

My “faith based” politics has led to a life of activism, of helping my neighbors and my community. Your personal opinion of the structure and purpose of our government notwithstanding, calling, however discreetly, for a violent revolution frankly sickens me. Especially when you,yourself will be sitting on your couch watching others die.

I am no Constitutional scholar, but I do read the thought of our founders rather extensively, and those thoughts absolutely make a mockery of your personal opinions of their motives. Not that you are not entitled to said opinions. Enjoy your solitude and continual frustration that others will not die on the barricades for you.

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By Mr. Muhammad Zamiluddin Khan, February 1, 2011 at 6:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When someone speaks of USA and its foundation as Republic ,they feel quite free to talk as to its settlers plundering of First Nations,i;e, the Native Americans and later its forceful annexation of California and Texas.When you stress these aspects where everyone has right to argue his viewpoint depending upon the personal construct of ideology-centric processing of historical events and it consequent analysis one also needs to be careful of being aware of temporal contextual parameter to consider the issue of annexation of California and Texas as “Expansionist"posturing of USA at that time may now also demand from the Critics and explanation of Illegal Immigration that take place over Mexico-US border?Just for Money,you think?I am just asking Dear? If you say yrs to that,could I argue racial predisposition of you in that judgment call?Thanks.Mr. Muhammad Zamiluddin Khan aka zamil Khan[Muhammad Khan’92HSPH]

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By kulu, February 1, 2011 at 4:33 am Link to this comment

Thanks for the link Shenonymous - a very interesting study which fleshes out a lot of what many believe to be the case.

I remember now learning somewhere about the different types of power - coercive, expert etc that you noted in another post. It was a long time ago so it is good to be reminded of it.

As for myself I have been trying to figure out this problem of corrupted power that seems to be the rule just about everywhere, and what’s to be done about it. I think I’ve got it at least half right but what to do about it is another thing.

On a bit of a tangent I have to wonder why power is wielded so unthinkingly in some cases where a different approach would seem to be justifiable even to the powerful ones. eg the US’s treatment of Haiti & Cuba. But that’s an aside.

On the disagreement between posters on how to bring about change I definitely would like to bring about wholesale system change as David J Cyr calls for and as many activists were chanting for at the Copenhagen debacle. That in the West seems too much to hope for unless or until some crucial elements within the system are changed, campaign reform being number 1 issue to confront everywhere. So I am hedging my bets, I suppose. Here in Australia I vote Green and support them in other ways because at the moment they are the only remotely possible way to bring about a change in direction. But South America? Now, there is some hope as I’ve noted elsewhere.

PS Anyone? What sort of power, if any does Obama exercise? It was, briefly legitimate but now?

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By David J. Cyr, January 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

QUOTE (ardee):

“Thus the fundamental difference between us emerges. You believe that our political system is beyond repair and I believe that it has been subverted from its true path and remains our best hope for a better nation.”
____________

The difference between us is that your belief is faith-based, while mine is evidence based.

The “true path” of America has always been an expansionist path; the path to empire that fascist societies always travel. The people who became the United States of America were seeking limitless lebensraum, and domination for exploitation even before they had a nation state to provide them the military means to their ends. America is an aggressor nation today because it always was. The pursuit of full spectrum global domination is consistent with the expansionist goals America has always had.

The Constitution wasn’t crafted to provide democracy. It was by liberal minds designed to provide a false appearance of people’s rule, to facilitate a sustainable rule over people by a few; with the few ruling based upon their wealth accumulated, rather than royal lineage. The corporate state is the natural development of the Founding Fathers’ original design.

America’s system isn’t broken, so repairing it isn’t what’s needed.

What is needed for species survival is a massive amount of truly newly creative destruction… soon.

The really ugly and most inconvenient truth is that the young may not have any future worth having, if their parents don’t all die soon, because their parents collectively wouldn’t do what they could have done when they could and should have done it… and the old ones will surely only keep trying to fix the systemic rot that they should have removed.

My Generation hoped it would die before it got old. Evidently, the Problem only got worse because that hope wasn’t fulfilled.

“Our beliefs are not what we see,
but the light by which we see.”
—Flannery O’Connor

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By Shenonymous, January 31, 2011 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

kulu, I meant to offer you the following website and article:
http://www.economist.com/node/15328544?story_id=15328544

Absolutely - Power corrupts, but it corrupts only those who think
they deserve it

There are several other articles on the subject at:
http://tiny.cc/2dtpt
OrganizedWisdom.com

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By Leefeller, January 31, 2011 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

kulu,

The word power, when connected to people seems an interesting topic to me also.  In my simplistic analyses, power in the human form, seems very similar to animal pecking orders.

If one has played the board game Monopoly, I found some people really get into the the power of winning. I suspect their is always the ego involved.

Is wealth connected to power, seems so to me? I point towards opportunism as a component of power. As usual I have plenty of questions and few answers.

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By Shenonymous, January 31, 2011 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

A few of us have discussed power as a human phenomenon, kulu. 
So we might be covering ground already traveled.  But it does seem
to be a topic about which more consciousness ought to be had.  If
we did have such awareness besides to ourselves, to what social
good would it yield?  It seems that for the good of society, it needs
to be understood and then actually used in constructive ways instead
of used for excessive amounts of acquisitions, because that is where
it is apparent all conflicts start, even where fealty and submission to
a particular theology or ideology is concerned. In these cases, the
theology or ideology acquires more adherents. Are any of us prepared
to act in ways of socially constructive power?  Of course I include myself
in that question. 

To discuss power in a cogent and effective way, we need a way to
proceed.  One way to begin is to give it definition before engaging in
abstract criticisms.  I will offer a few that I’ve learned about because
there are different kinds of power, as you implied, and we need to be
clear which kind we are dealing with else we go on tangents.  There is
the kind humans are born with exercised for continuous survival, I call
it “intrinsic survival” power.  Then there are the kinds you generally
spoke of that is gained from experience and lessons taught through
nurture when an appreciation of acquisition is enhanced. 

Firstly, power is ordinarily thought of as a mental sense of control over
the environment in which one finds oneself soon after birth and onward
to one’s death.  Of the natural kind, it means having sustenance in
spite of a hostile natural environment and influence over others to
provide what are perceived a basic necessities.  Later on, beyond the
natural type, having it is seen as providing more than essentials.  It also
means having “physical” power to labor at something. 

There are a few types of power.  “Coercive” power means the power to
inflict punishment such as what parents have, and employers who can
fire someone or assign a less desirable task.  “Reward” power can be
seen as opposite to coercive as parents and bosses also can bestow
benefits or promotions.  Next there is “legitimate” power which is
presented by an authority such as a government or by the rules of
some institution. 

We also have “expert” power which endows one with more knowledge
and hence gives more power where knowledge is important, i.e.,
doctors have the power of life and death, or firemen, even the arcane
knowledge of plumbers.  Then there is what is known as “referent”
power which is given to those who have achieved some skill or action
thought of as admirable, such as the courage of a soldier, and firemen
again make the list, who acted heroically.  There are probably more
kinds; these are the ones I know about.  Others are invited to suggest
them.  But what is now important to look at are actual ways of how
power is used.  What are the antipathetic ways and the humanitarian
ways?  Perhaps you can take over and begin the discussion on that
extension of the topic as I am sure you have some ideas about it? 

adee, you deftly and usefully clarified the difference between one
position, Cyr’s, and ours, as I wholly agree with you, which I am noting
only to point out that there are more than one person who holds that
view.  I wonder if there are those brave enough to also add their
names?  Yeah, to either side?

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By BR549, January 31, 2011 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

Ardee,
As I’ve stated previously, it is my belief that our system was co-opted before it ever got off the ground. The framework of individual empowerment under “individual sovereignty” was certainly there and could have worked well to inspire people to keep working toward that common goal, but it appears that a few Federalist turds in the punchbowl just couldn’t get a grasp of what was being created and had to revert to the machinations of the Crown, with them coincidentally positioning themselves into positions not afforded to others. And it all went downhill from there.

Kulu,
“This sort of power for power’s sake is quite different from that of the hard wired will to survive and live well ......”

I had been tossing the notion around, years back, that from a spiritual perspective, there were people who, whether consciously or not, derived their “operational energy” divinely from above and that they didn’t consider their fellow planetary travelers to be a threat to their existence. The others, however, not having some inner confidence of their connectedness, resorted to feeding laterally off of anyone they could; spiritual parasites, if you will. If they couldn’t “feed off” others, they would surely die, regardless if it were off members of their own species.

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By ardee, January 31, 2011 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

David J. Cyr, January 30 at 8:10 pm

Thus the fundamental difference between us emerges. You believe that our political system is beyond repair and I believe that it has been subverted from its true path and remains our best hope for a better nation.

As two individuals who see a common need, fundamental change for the better, I wonder which course is actually doable; repair of our Democratic Republic or replacement thereof? Why don’t you step on out and state your own course of action for said replacement as I have done in my call for repair?

I think repairs far, far more easily done, difficult though it may be,  than a replacement which seems dependent upon violent revolution to accomplish. I await your alternatives.

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By kulu, January 31, 2011 at 3:45 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous

It depends what you mean by power. The people who get to positions of power over others, apart from a few co-opted individuals, do so because they want to. You might say they are, at least in part, genetically hard wired to work towards that end. But there is cultural influence too and an environmental one (besides cultural); how they were raised where they live etc. This sort of power for power’s sake is quite different from that of the hard wired will to survive and live well as evidenced by babies as you note. The will to survive though is indeed hard wired and this is true for all species, if not purely as individuals then as a species, a group etc.

That historically many post subsistence societies have tended to develop into aggressive fiefdoms, empires or what have you has much to do with the fact that in populations with a very mixed array of individuals with different propensities ranging from power hungry to passive to altruistic the power hungry individuals tend to end up dominating the rest.

I am by no means an expert on this sort of thing but find it a worthwhile subject to debate.

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By Anarcissie, January 31, 2011 at 2:03 am Link to this comment

TAO Walker, January 31 at 1:16 am:

‘...  It may be that for “anarcissie” (just as an example) a lifetime of immersion in the “power”-mad CONceits of the pathological ‘dominance’-paradigm has left a kind of (precious)attention-deficit-disorder, making it hard even to imagine any actually effective ORGANic response to our predicament. ...’

It’s not hard to imagine.  Actually doing something is a bit more difficult, even for autonomous individuals and small groups, but it’s within the realm of practical possibility.  However, politics is usually about larger collectivities, and that’s where there’s a problem, which I think has been brought to your attention before. 

(Well, I suppose affecting a large number of minds would be a kind of power, and if I abjure power then I should just shut up.  But for the moment consider me to be treating the problem as an academic exercise; by the testimony of my experience in the ‘real’ world I shall be perfectly safe from any kind of success except the success of Cassandra.)

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By TAO Walker, January 30, 2011 at 8:16 pm Link to this comment

Since “power” is only a crippling delusion anyhow, it seems to this Old Savage actually a ‘good thing’ that some of us participating here don’t offer anything ‘based’ in it as possible solutions to the now “global” problematical CONdition that is at-least the sub-text of nearly every discussion here.  It may be that for “anarcissie” (just as an example) a lifetime of immersion in the “power”-mad CONceits of the pathological ‘dominance’-paradigm has left a kind of (precious)attention-deficit-disorder, making it hard even to imagine any actually effective ORGANic response to our predicament. 

David J. Cyr can of-course ‘speak’ his own mind on possibly viable alternatives.  This Old Indian, though, is certainly ‘on-record’ here as seeing no CONventional (i.e.: ideological/institutional/technical) remedy whatsoever for what is in-fact a congeries of truly Life-threatening CONditions not seen here in aeons….if ever. 

The Living Virtue of Organic Functional Integrity is something essential to every beat of a Person’s Heart.  That vitally essential property of a Person’s natural immune system, when in deficit, has unwelcome consequences for the entire organism that is a Human body.  Such syndromes are generally recognized as disease conditions.

As a Living Being, with a specific physical form, our Mother Earth will suffer, and in-fact is suffering all the specific effects of a Being of Her Kind with a seriously dysfunctional immune system.  Most of that component of it that IS Humanity presently languishes in an induced state of severe dysfunction.  This is the effect of a disease process the overall symptomatic excrescence of which is actually “civilization” itself.

Humanity has been subject, in this process, to a more than ten-thousand-year-long CONfinement regime (the “money-power” eCONomy) intended by the tormenting retro-viral ‘entity’ to suppress our given immune function within Earth’s Living Arrangement, while it degrades Her Natural Vitality into the degenerate ‘energy’ the thing uses to perpetuate its own “self.”  As an engendered member of the Whole Living Arrangement, Humanity itself is inevitably also suffering the effects of its own Dysfunction….right along with our Mother and All Our Relations, Her other Children.

To recover a sufficiency of this Living Virtue, Organic Functional Integrity, our presently “individual”-ized Sisters and Brothers need only get free of the CON-TRAPtion that is their CONtrived “self,” come together as Natural Persons into the ORGANic Form of our Kind called (in English) Community, and give both their unconditionally affectionate respect and their precious attention to our Whole Living Arrangement.  This is the genuine Medicine for what ails ALL-concerned. 

Yet there is no “power” of any sort, anywhere, that can compel its sufficient re-emergence into our common Life.  That will occur naturally and spontaneously, like the Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself….or not at all.  So….

ALL TOGETHER….NOW!?!?

HokaHey!

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By BR549, January 30, 2011 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, January 30 at 10:31 pm
“Talking about changing the Constitution or the Democratic Party may be amusing, but practically, there is not a scintilla of evidence that anyone here can do anything about either, beyond posting screeds on this and similar web sites.”

You may be right, but the founding fathers focused on both individual and state sovereignty and that we had a republic as a governmental body. The fact that we have (or had) a republic has next to nothing in common with the values, if there are any to be had, of the Republican Party. So many people are wondering what form of government would work best when we haven’t even given this one a chance, since it was co-opted before it could ever get off the ground.

Somewhere along the line, those people taking oaths failed to understand the words they had been speaking or the ideals they had promised to uphold and what we had was an incremental failure of a system that actually had a lot of merit. Since the founders had foreseen the potential dangers, the one thing that was sure to undermine them was a corrupt three branches that made sure no one could see the man behind the curtain pulling the levers. They sabotaged their own government and want to designate the citizens who object as traitors.

Right now, the Constitution, what’s left of it, is still the law of the land and the Declaration remains as our reasons for adopting it. Rather than try to re-invent the wheel during these times of turmoil, shouldn’t we be demanding adherence to those “documents” and the “republic” which they swore to uphold? I mean, had they been doing that and not lying through their teeth, we wouldn’t be in this mess. (We’d probably be in another one.)

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By Shenonymous, January 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment

There is much agreement here, except the voices being heard might
be too busy hearing their own speeches.  I hope I am recognizing
that agreement sufficiently.  I appreciate TAO Walker’s jogging us to
consciousness!  We must always be aware of the predator Walmart. 
But TAO Walker, “David J. Cyr suggests both cogently and
consistently?” you forgot to capitalize CON in CONsistently.  See!
I pay attention to what you have to say! 

Even if it is a façade of the democratic process, tyranny is not an
alternative nor is anarchy.  310 million of ethnic, racial, gender
identification, wealth strata, and so forth differences in a homogenous
American society, anarchic individualism just cannot even in any fantasy
work. Sovereignty means government free from “external” control it
does not imply no control.  So if sovereignty is invoked, the kind that is
talked about ought to be made clear.  There are identifiable kinds: 
popular, political, legal, dejure, defacto, titular, real and more.

Contrary to Cyr, Democrats do express what to serve: social programs: 
Social Security, Medicare, equitable education for all, unemployment
benefits, equitable wages, equitable treatment of women, homosexuals,
immigrants both legal and not, etc.  I really don’t need to spell all of
them out do I?

I disagree that America has not had a working democracy.  All forms of
government always suffer a tug of war between those who have money
and power and those who don’t.  Democracy works here as well as it
can under ever changing conditions. And sometimes it works better
than others if just size were the only deciding parameter.  We are living
in a time where it is not working as well as it might because of the
ascendency of power to the ultra conservative side of political thought
which is always a creeping curse.  To call liberals fascists is a pathetic
delapidation of thought and without valid grounds.  It is pompous and
self-aggrandizing spouting.  You are wrong David J. Cyr.  Tyranny, that
comes in as many forms as sovereignty can be pernicious and people
who are busy with constructing a decent life do not pay attention until
a critical situation arises. It is the same dynamic people face in their
private lives especially with regard to their own health.  The remarkable
thing in a democracy is that the people can turn 180 degrees and
change the political climate.  It has worked that way several times in
America. 

Well, it seems, Anarcissie, several of us are talking realistically that the
only change that can come about must come from local activism, long
shot as it may seem. It is really the only option, even if our screeds
about finding flamboyant ways to effect change are amusing.  No one is
really laughing.  Armed insurrection or protests such as what is
going on in Egypt is not going to happen here regardless of any
hypothesis that it could.  Of course anything “could” happen, but its
probability is next to nil and for all the reasons already expressed.  I
suppose “normal” politics, if that means as we moderns, or rather post
moderns, understand them, could be a metaphor for war, although it is
less virulent and less deadly and it is the way people negotiate their
differences whether successful or not.  The ruling class has been
around since tribal times so it is nothing really new that the non-ruling
class has had to deal with.  And eventually they have won from feudal
times onward.  We are witnessing new victories as we breathe.

Emile, it is possible you have something worthwhile to say, but “we” are
not privy to it.  Your defense with offensive language does put me off
and possibly others, though I do not know for sure.  Are “we” being too
critical of Emile?  Perhaps he has a sense of humor that is of a
completely different species than ours?  We must be tolerant even
though he is not.

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By TAO Walker, January 30, 2011 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment

This Indian assumes nothing, and said nothing, about the “personal life” of “Emile.”  His own earlier first-person-plural comment about people maybe needing to be “institutionalized and medicated,” rather than “in the streets,” certainly explicitly included his very own “self.”

David J. Cyr said below, “People need a habitable environment to survive, but Nature has no need to supply more of itself for people to destroy.”  In his subsequent comment he said, noting the visible (and otherwise sense-able) degeneration of that environment “....while the corporate mind-controlled super-majority remains fixated only on short-term wants, “There’s no bigger problem than an existential problem.”

David J. Cyr is clearly capable of correcting, if necessary, any misinterpretations this Old Savage might’ve made of his offerings.  “Emile,” on the other hand, seems to be affecting a ‘persona’ here that, as another commenter suggested, is akin to the arrested-development over-aged ‘juvenile’ whose inane outbursts betray not only a lack of good manners, but of anything worthwhile to add to a conversation among grown-ups.

Anyhow, “the truth” itself cares nothing about whether anybody does or doesn’t “care about” it.

HokaHey!

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By Anarcissie, January 30, 2011 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

David J. Cyr, January 30 at 8:11 pm:

‘.. Big problems need big solutions. There’s no bigger problem than an existential problem. ...’

That may be so, but no one posting here, and I suspect no one reading here, has the power to effect, or even contribute to, any seriously big solutions.  Talking about changing the Constitution or the Democratic Party may be amusing, but practically, there is not a scintilla of evidence that anyone here can do anything about either, beyond posting screeds on this and similar web sites. That leaves the very long shot of working through local activism and communicating, mostly via the Internet, with those of like mind, and saving yourself and those you care about if you can.  (People will have different ideas how to go about these things.)

I myself don’t think that voting and other phenomena of ‘normal’ politics, which are a kind of metaphor of war, are going to make a lot of difference at this stage, but I could be wrong.  Things are going to change—the world is changing now—but they are not going to change predictably because if the changes could be predicted those who now hold power and wealth, the ruling class, would see to it that they didn’t happen; change is not to their advantage, regardless of what colors they disport or which prejudices they huckster to.

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By Leefeller, January 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

I found the presidents prattle to the union one of his worst, but in my delusions, I had hoped for a change, but I was not expecting such an uninspiring tepid address, it was as if Obama must have been talking to the Republicans, which means talking down.  Maybe Obama was upset because Fox announced they were not going to broadcast it as part of their hay-wire balancing act.

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By TAO Walker, January 30, 2011 at 4:22 pm Link to this comment

The “religion and guns” those working-class “folks” were so infamously said (by the present ‘temp’ in the Oval Office) to be “cling(ing)-to,” have their exact equivalents (among many of those commenting here) in socio-political ideology and its own specifically accompanying exercises-in-futility….like “voting.”  David J. Cyr suggests both cogently and consistently that neither fixation is anywhere near adequate to address the fundamentally BIOLOGICAL nature of the condition the domesticated peoples’ CONdition is in.

We’re way past the stage of the “civilization” disease process where any belief-/thought-system whatsoever is even remotely relevant (which hardly any of ‘em ever was anyhow), never-mind therapeutically efficacious, to the mostly “self”-inflicted predicament presently overwhelming every artifactual arrangement there is….including the angloamericanimperialists’ idiotic ‘dominance’-paradigm itself.  Having long-since fought and bought and thought their random collection made-up “selfs” into this truly existential DEAD END, our currently captive Sisters and Brothers haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of shooting or buying or rationalizing a Way out of it.  It isn’t only ‘not nice’ to fuck with Mother Nature….it’s downright suicidal.

The Way of Organic Functional Integrity, that Living Virtue found only in Natural Communities of ORGANized Natural Persons, vital components in Earth’s immune system, is the specific Medicine for the ailment….genuine relief for all its symptoms.

ALL TOGETHER….NOW!!!!

HokaHey!

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By David J. Cyr, January 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

QUOTE (Max Shields):

“I would say that rather than fighting the existing structure by attempting to make another party more viable, on the stage with the other parties, etc. I prefer to focus on local scale where change can and does happen. Size does matter.”
____________

Liberals attempting to reconstruct themselves assume that because the other corporate party faction succeeded in controlling most town boards all across the country that they can do that too. But it took several decades for that local control to be very thoroughly conservatively consolidated.

However, due to the many decades of delaying actions of the corporate (R) & (D) party loyalists, the smarter humans, who have learned experientially, don’t now have those decades to waste on glacial slow transfers of apparent governmental control… while the glaciers are all disappearing and the permafrost becomes permanently defrosted.

All that local control can realistically provide is some hospice care for the small enclaves of people who have managed to see long-term needs, while the corporate mind-controlled supermajority remains fixated only on short-term wants. That hospice care won’t last long, when irreversible collapse becomes evident to all.

Big problems need big solutions. There’s no bigger problem than an existential problem.

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By David J. Cyr, January 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment

QUOT (ardee):

“That a third party “limits” itself by being desirous of being a third party seems semantic silliness, if you will excuse the phrase. That there are currently only two major political parties seem to make the phrase “third party” an obvious and logical one.

But we are not here to discuss such word play, only to deal with the path we need to take to rescue an ailing democracy and restore”
______________

Accurately describing reality is neither “semantic silliness” nor mere “word play” for people who want others to see the world as it actually is.

The immutable conservatives and uneducable liberals all desperately cling to their faith-based belief that Republicans and Democrats oppose each other, but real world evidence regularly provides empirical proofs that (R)s and (D)s work in solidarity together on the same team, for the corporate persons against natural persons and Nature.

Conservatives and liberals are always arguing among each other over how best to serve, but not what to serve. They differ in how best they might serve it, but they both ever loyally serve the corporate state.

There is no “ailing democracy to restore” in America. American’s can’t restore what they’ve never had. The enlightened “Founding Fathers” designed a more perfect system to preclude the possibility of democracy. The post Civil War development of a corporate state controlled by corporate persons was/is consistent with the original intent of those Founding Fathers, many of whom were individuals as relatively wealthy compared to the common man in their day as corporate persons are to natural persons today.

The American system isn’t broken. It’s working just fine to do what it was originally designed to do. The greatest achievement for liberals was in their diligently perfecting the world’s most sustainable form of fascism.

Unfortunately, for all the world’s people, the planet has developed a climactic immune reaction. America’s long sustained fascism is no longer sustainable. People need a habitable environment to survive, but Nature has no need to supply more of itself for people to destroy.

Nothing is sustainable after it becomes unsustainable.

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By BR549, January 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

MaxShields, January 30 at 2:27 pm
“Again, I would say that rather than fighting the existing structure by attempting to make another party more viable, on the stage with the other parties, etc. I prefer to focus on local scale where change can and does happen. Size does matter. Take a look at some of what is going on in Vermont.” .... “Perhaps one of the most important first steps is to do what they did in Vermont and pass a state resolution to eliminate corporate personhood through a Constitution Ammendment. Beyond that I would like to hear from those here who think that a 3rd party in a duopolistic system can work (given our form of government).

I think the magic word you’re looking for here would be “sovereignty”, both at the state and individual levels. The fact that our monopolistic duopoly has co-opted the entire process has only served to eliminate any competition. What does remain is a facade of a democratic process; a shell of legitimacy, while the long term hegemonic agenda stays right on course, no matter which party is in power.

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By TAO Walker, January 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

“Emile” might be interested to know he and his fella ‘n’ gal domesticates already enjoy the best of both worlds.  They’re all both completely institutionalized and (mostly “self”-) medicated….and more and more of ‘em every Day are being put out on the street.

Meantime, the Wal-Martians are running a helluva deal on “family-size” tents and other camping gear.

HokaHey!

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By BR549, January 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

Ardee stated:
“Further, many believe, myself included, that the system as intended by the founders is an inherently decent model needing only reform and renovation rather than a wholesale overthrowing.”

Amen. If the founding fathers were to see how their system had become perverted, they’d be rolling over in their graves, but we don’t see any but a handful of politicians actually attempting to do anything to restore this country back to its republican (by definition, not the party) ideals.

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By Shenonymous, January 30, 2011 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

ardee, I think I made it perfectly clear that the Democrats need
reforming and that that permanent reform happens from within. 
But if I didn’t to the degree that is satisfactory, I will restate it here
and now.  Democrats are in dire need of reformation.  I do not have
a plan for said reformation not having gotten past just the noticing.
But I will certainly give it some thought as you correctly encourage
me to do so.  Intuitively you are right, one ought not to complain
unless one has a plan to repair a perceived problem.  Some have
better skills at that than others.  I would welcome and implore others
to make constructive suggestions how Democrats can regain their social
system of ideas and ideals.  I know we must not to worry about being
called socialists by the worried Republicans as socialism in good
measure is the way societies equalize imbalance in economic
distribution.  We have to remember that Democrats are of many
stripes.  Skunk is only one pattern.  At the moment my well is dry
but I will make an effort to fill it up with constructive actions.  I only
sense there is a huge problem with Democrats since the President and
Congress have compromised to Republican coercion.  I think I did have
one suggestion that agreed with MaxShields’ opinion that change must
begin at the grass-roots level.  I would imagine encouragement in any
form that is possible for Democrats to recover their courage and
exercise their social ideals with strength and conviction would be
appropriate. 

Time out for a few hours, mundane life calls.  But I will be giving your
challenge thought as I go about it.

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By BR549, January 30, 2011 at 2:34 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, January 29 at 7:00 pm
“A hundred issues rear their heads like a hydra on a daily basis so that before one can be dealt with sufficiently, another fire-spitting
monster cuts in line for immediate attention.”

You brought up a number of good points. I have likened that to our government being in a state of near total overwhelm. From a holistic standpoint, it demands to stay in charge as long as some perceived predator is circling the campsite, always under the cover of darkness, and that ever present vigil, that state of hyper awareness and a need to have to know everything about everyone around it at anytime in order to survive, is characteristic of paranoia or even an auto-immune disorder, where the very elements of its own body become the enemy. It has nowhere to go but down, as did the Druids and every other claimed CIVILIZATION that lost control of its control.

These people who CLAIM to be in charge of this collective out of control merry-go-round viscerally feel that they have to do something, and yet every time they stop to make a plan, the speed increases beyond the capabilities of their last plan. For some reason, while the rest of the population is busy doing life, these people find it necessary to charge to the head of the line to protect us all from it. No one bothers to consider, from a more spiritual perspective, what would happen if they just unplugged the merry-go-round. “How can we do that? We can’t jump off because it’s moving too fast,” so they don’t even try. The concept of detuning a government in order to down-regulate its own existence seems abhorrent during those perceived times of crisis.

John Haglun, my throw-away vote for the 2000 election, had he ever spoken before Congress, would have totally snowed its members; right over the tops of their heads. Certainly, no charisma, I agree, but putting yoga and meditation in the classrooms was a start. That is where the entire present system has failed. I don’t mean to get religious here because that’s the last place I would go, but this issue has been approaching one of biblical proportions. All of these usurpations of power by our elected officials under the guise of “national security”, the endless list of Executive Orders starting with Kennedy (before he appeared to grow a conscience) and sadly even Carter, all of these would put the DSM IV on the Bestseller List relative to human sociopathology.

“There are reasons why these kind of guys don’t catch on (referring to Kucinich and Gravel).  And there will be reasons why third-partiers won’t either unless they elevate a shiny ornament who as well speaks to truth.” Sadly, I think more more people are interested in the shiny ornaments than they are the truth.

“I think the elements of Republicanism, ultra-conservative Republicanism will always be around even if the Democrats ever divorce themselves from the alleged duopoly, and that is the center bull’s-eye as far as I am concerned that needs vigorous attention.  I don’t agree with the notion that the Democratic Party is a Siamese twin of the Republican Party ...”
You’d probably change your view on that when you reviewed the concatenation of presidential Executive Orders. With our fascistically leaning Right on one side and our socialistically leaning Left on the other, that democratic part of our democratic republic (I’m not referring to the party, here) has allowed both parties to vie for control, depending on which way the wind was blowing. Meanwhile, the whole concept of our having been a REPUBLIC has all but been forgotten as the concept of individual sovereignty has been ignored.

Following the Constitutional Convention, a woman was reported to have asked Benjamin Franklin what type of government they had crafted for them. He replied, “A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

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By ardee, January 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

Max

The running of a national candidate by the Greens may seem an exercise in futility but it is a case of gaining name recognition. It also seems to be working ,albeit a mite slowly. Every cycle there is more ballot access for Green candidates and more Greens elected to local and state office. We , as a culture, have become oriented to the thirty second fix, sad to say. This is a case in which there is just no rapid way to grow a third party. But, I believe, grow it will.

Shenonymous

I might feel better about your loyalty to the Democrats, not that you need me to feel better about your own personal choices of course, if you did note that your party needs reforming and showed an interest and a plan in said reformation. There is no one path solution, and if an activist were to dedicate herself to reformation of a major political party I would certainly support such efforts.

Emile

It might or might not interest you to understand that many who come here are serious about the topics, serious about solutions to real problems as well.

Perhaps you might go back to Facebook or Twitter,or wherever you children are “hanging” these days. Your one line simplistic nonsense only serves to denigrate your own image. Your repetitious and empty rhetoric serves no purpose here. If you have anything of weight to add, by all means, add it. Otherwise stop embarrassing yourself and annoying the adults.

Thanks ever so much.

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By Shenonymous, January 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

War is the ugliest phenomenon in which humans engage without end.
It is as old as humanity in one form or another.  Hunter-gatherers
competed for food and shelter and evidence shows they fought and
killed one another, although not in organized war until city-states
developed.  Millions of years later we are still at it only in insanely
sophisticated ways.  We can now kill entire populations with the
push of a button or a vial of bacterial poison.  And our reasons have
changed.  Not just for food or shelter, we now want riches for riches
sake, property, vast amounts of property.  We want power, that sense
of ultimate control over everything.  But then tribal kings did too so it
wasn’t long after conflict for basic necessities existed that greed and
the hunger for power ascended as a human emotion needing
satisfaction. 

I hate the idea of war and I hate more the killing of innocent people for
any reason.  However, I would defend myself and those I love and care
about from predators, human or otherwise.  So in that sense, I cannot
say I absolutely would not kill, abhorrent an idea as it might be.  I do
not believe the war in Iraq had any justification at all.  There is nothing
to vindicate that action by the United States, and I do not blame only
George Bush and his cabinet who own the lion’s share of it, I blame the
entire political Congressional construction in Washington, D.C., and the
American people to the degree that they did not fill the streets with
protest as they did for Vietnam.  I can only think that 9/11 universally
numbed their sense of justice.  And the media and political rhetoric
endorsed that emotional reaction. 

The virtue of going after murderers is something I still need to discuss
as I am torn about going after terrorists when more than 3000 people
were destroyed, not only Americans but people from all over the world,
in the 9/11 massacres and the continued massive killing on both sides
of the current conflagration.  My instincts say yes, seeking them out
and destroying them is lex talionis reasoning. But I fancy myself as a
civilized and evolved human.  I know I do not believe in turning the
other cheek.  But isn’t there another way to find solace and justice
without surrendering to Buddha or Christ?  I need more discussion.
I need to hear rational arguments both for and against.

MaxShields, I read your passionate post and it does strike a sympathetic
chord in me.  Having read about them, and heard their denunciations
and condemnations, I have a dark view of al Qaeda.  So I wonder, since
al Qaeda has voiced the intention to kill Americans and (assuming you
and your family are American and are all innocent) if you and your
family were in the line of fire, what would you do?  What if your family
were killed in their intentional attack even if they were not the prime
target?  What would you do?  If they got away with it and escaped
would you go seek vengeance?  What would be justice for you.  What if
they also voiced the intention to kill all your neighbors and then your
entire country?  Just as an exercise in thought, what would you do?

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By Anarcissie, January 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

I don’t want to be too pessimistic.  Humans have many motivations and qualities besides a desire for power.  However, the desire is always present and must be taken account of.  Our present social arrangements are clearly inadequate to control or deflect the desire for power into non-destructive channels, and so we have imperialism abroad, and surveillance, provocation, and crimes against humanity like the Drug War perpetrated at home, not by independent sociopaths, but the very government which is supposed to restrain our sociopathic impulses.

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