Although I’m a family man, with my share of friends, along with being community-minded, there’s a part of me that rarely fully connects with people, leaving me with an impression of being on the outside looking in and trying to make sense of the self-destructive direction people are driving our future towards.
Over the decades I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to understand what makes my fundamental outlook and instincts so foreign to the general mindset. It’s only recently, with the hindsight of 65 (now 66) years, and coming off of this “Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-gravity Project” with all it’s side trips and then discovering the light at the end of the tunnel and Dr. Mark Solms enunciating the substance of Neuropsychology.
A body of work which convincingly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” (and all the distracting intellectual mischief that gave birth to). Neuropsychology brings us face to face with the reality that our consciousness is basically the inside reflection of our body/brain interacting with its environment.
Now there’s something worth chewing on, if your looking for intellectual challenge, or simply want to understand how things work.
Back to my struggle to make sense out of myself. So, a year ago I was able to enunciate what made me so different. Basically, I possessed a visceral awareness of, and appreciation for, being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution.
What was it that opened that potential up for me?
How was it that the Abrahamic Mindset always felt foreign to me, if not plain wrong, (even if it wins all the battles).
I think I also finally nailed that one. It goes back to my early childhood, even before starting kindergarten at John J. Audubon Elementary school in Chicago. I’d been playing in the pool of warming sunlight streaming through the window onto our living room carpet, lighting up dust motes like fireflies. I remember focusing on watching the dust motes floating around and then rushing after my mom, when she’d pass by. I was already fascinated by the night sky full of sparkles and these motes seemed like little universes to me.
Who knows, except I really was fascinated by the scene.
Then I hear myself asking mom: “What is god?"
I like to think she took a few beats before answering: “A speck of dust that wanted to be more”.
I must have been primed because it really blew my mind in a way that literally permeated by entire being. After the initial shock wore off, it didn’t provide any sort of insight, it was simply the suggestion, the question, the challenge. God as a speck that simply wanted to be more. It was beautiful and awesome to this little boy and I carried that conception with me for the rest of my life.
It’s take over 60 years for me to fully appreciate it’s impact and now to understand the why of, what happened that set me on my singular path.
I believe what happened was that, that notion of a little speck of dust wanting to be more, wound up filling and satisfying that little niche' of my brain, the "god" niche' where our human longing for the ultimate answers originates.
So when the Abrahamic self-serving image of an egotistical God was presented to me, there was no place for it to take hold in my brain or heart, so I was free of its shackles and free to find my own way through what life served up for me.
This sense of self and spiritual solidity emerged out of a lifetime of curiosity and learning about myself (though that's another story) Earth, deep-time, her amazing evolutionary story and the development of life and creatures and ourselves. Appreciating why we can’t understand an organism, without also understanding it’s environment - all of that offers insights we can apply to our day to days. (How does endlessly pondering outside sources of consciousness inform one’s actual living life?)
Especially realizing how the components of my own physical body had their origins eons ago. The visceral awareness that for the most part mammals have the same skeleton and parts I do, except that are in different proportions - that's amazingly deep for a meat eater. Even before that, if you consider how Earth herself had to go through intense processing before promising molecular tricks and biological solutions to life’s challenges would have the material resources at hand to allow them to be put to the test and prosper.
It’s a long, amazingly complex story that keeps evolving as more evidence gets collected and processed into shared scientific knowledge. Folds within folds of cumulative harmonic complexity flowing down the cascade of time. Considering I’ve been paying attention to it since my grade school days, it’s inevitable that I’ve achieved some insights along the way.
Deep-time is basically appreciating the immensity of Earth's Evolution.
Earth is ~4,600 million years old; complex organisms ~600 MYA; vertebrates ~525 MYA; land populated ~400 MYA; placentals ~90 MYA; hominids ~6 MYA; modern humans ~0.3 MYA. It's nothing magical!
It's overwhelming, is what it is. All of that really did unfold one day at a time. Imagine that.
Appreciating deep-time emerges from learning things such as why the "boring billions" weren't so boring. (Earth’s mineral evolution - R. Hazen) Understanding why our moon mattered, imagining 100s of meter high tidal waves racing around the globe, etc. Baby continents and no plants, only storms and erosion, and time, inconceivably long periods of time and steady change, with significant punctuations now and then.
Appreciating that we can’t understand an organism without also understanding its environment. Life started, then was constrained by Earth’s environmental conditions, which took a long time to process and sort out and catch up to life's potential.
Appreciating the serendipitous Evolutionary Dance between Geology and Biology that made Earth so magnificent and promising for Life.
Most people "know" some of that, but no deeper than a series of postcard impressions.Having a deep-time, Earth Centrist, appreciation indicates having learned enough about Earth’s Evolution to have developed a certain visceral appreciation for those amazing expanses of time and the cascade of events that converged and lined up just so, to result in us, for our walk across Earth's stage.Nothing exact or fancy, simply a developed deeper awareness of the processes and chapters required for us to be created, along with the thirst to keep on learning.
Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity,
(Titles are linked)
Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014
“Probing the interface theory of perception: Reply to commentaries, by Donald D. Hoffman, Manish Singh & Chetan Prakash"
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. volume 22, pages1551–1576(2015)
We propose that selection favors nonveridical perceptions that are tuned to fitness. Current textbooks assert, to the contrary, that perception is useful because, in the normal case, it is veridical. Intuition, both lay and expert, clearly sides with the textbooks. We thus expected that some commentators would reject our proposal and provide counterarguments that could stimulate a productive debate. … (HSP)
(3.02) Barton Anderson - Where does fitness fit in theories of perception?
(3.03) Jonathan Cohen - Perceptual representation, veridicality, and the interface theory of perception.
(3.04) Shimon Edelman - Varieties of perceptual truth and their possible evolutionary roots.
(3.05) Jacob Feldman - Bayesian inference and “truth”: a comment on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash.
(3.06) Chris Fields -Reverse engineering the world: a commentary on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash, “The interface theory of perception”.
(3.07) Jan Koenderink - Esse est Percipi & Verum est Factum.
(3.08) Rainer Mausfeld - Notions such as “truth” or “correspondence to the objective world” play no role in explanatory accounts of perception.
(3.09) Brian P. McLaughlin and E. J. Green - Are icons sense data?
(3.10) Zygmunt Pizlo - Philosophizing cannot substitute for experimentation: comment on Hoffman, Singh & Prakash.
(3.11) Matthew Schlesinger - Interface theory of perception leaves me hungry for more.
Student Resources - Background info:
Dr. Mark Solms deftly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness, while incidentally highlighting why Hoffman’s “Conscious Agents” are luftgeschäft.
My homemade philosophical underpinnings.
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