Monday, July 23, 2012

Quantum Psychology, Chapter Five

[The exercizes for Chapter 5 work fine for an online group, so I've made no changes -- Tom]

1. Let the group look back at Exercize 1 at the end of Chapter Two. Try to decide how many of the propositions there, which I then asked you to force into the two categories "meaningful" and "meaningless" might fit just as well into the category of Game Rules or the resultants of tacit (unstated) Game Rules.

2. Meditate upon the following quote from Lord Russell's Our Knowledge of the External World (page 24):

The belief or unconscious conviction that all propositions are of some subject-predicate form -- in other words, that every fact consists of some thing having some quality -- has rendered most philosophers incapable of giving any account of science and daily life.

Consider the subject-predicate form as a Game Rule.

3. Contemplate the following typical subject-predicate sentences: "The lightning flashed suddenly." "It is now raining out." "I have an uncontrollable temper."

Try to identify the subject, "it" in  the sentence: "It is now raining out."

See how subject-predicate Game Rules influence the other two sentences. Can any of you restate them in  more phenomenological language?

Does any of this help you see the trick in the two-heads (or infinite heads) argument?

Also, we are supposed to give each member of the group a chance to think of a new dualism for dividing up the 13 objects listed in Chapter Four. (The list, with links to photos, is  here.) Mike Smith, a prolific recent commentator, has suggested dividing them into objects that can be used by themselves vs. ones that require something else for use.


Thom Foolery said...

As I was reading chapter five on Saturday, I kept wondering if RAW had ever encountered Douglas Harding and his Headless Way. I wondered this because RAW discusses the "experienced" head that resides within the "external" head, and yet, in my experience (and that of Douglas Harding), I do not have a head as such. I can look in the mirror and see a (backwards) reflection of my head, I can see my head in films and photographs of my self, and yet I don't ever directly experience my head. Instead, my experience is of a big open view on the world, where I "know" my head should be. I can look out from this (invisible) head and take in everything else, but I cannot comprehend the experiencing head itself. And so instead of having one head inside another, I have a big open sensorium (emptiness?) located "inside" the "external" head I have come to know and love.

Thoughts on the actual experiments to come...

Thom Foolery said...

Exercize 1.

Does RAW define "game rules" anywhere? I seem to have overlooked it if he did. I am going to wing these based on my limited understanding of what he is talking about:

A. I hauled the garbage out this morning. - Game Rule = garbage needs to be taken "outside" as it doesn't belong "inside."

B. & C. -- Unsure.

D. This table-top measures two feet by four feet. - Game Rule = agreement on terms of measurement and shared inertial frames of reference.

E. Space becomes curved in the vicinity of heavy masses, such as stars. AND F. Space does not become curved at all; light simply bends in the vicinity of heavy masses, such as stars. - Game Rule = various mathematical definitions of space, mass, curvature, etc.

G. Defendants are innocent until the jury pronounces them guilty. - Game Rule = USAmerican jurisprudence.

H. The umpire's decision is binding. - Game Rule = Baseball rules particular to a given league.

I. "History is the march of God through the world." (Hegel). - Game Rule = Hegelian transcendental idealism --> thesis + antithesis yields synthesis/new thesis

J. In the act of conception, the male and the female each contribute 23 chromosomes. - Game Rules = Mendelian laws of heredity and molecular biology

K. The devil made me do it. - Game Rules = existence of devil as source of evil thoughts, words, and deeds in world and in human beings.

L. My unconscious made me do it. - Game Rules = Freudian psychoanalysis

M. Conditioned reflexes made me do it. - Game Rules = Pavlovian behavioralism

N. A church is the house of God. - Game Rules = beliefs of a particular religious sect

O. Anybody who criticizes the government is a traitor. - Game Rules = Patriotism defined as uncritical assent to governmental authority, criticism defined as saying things about the government not agreed with by holder of this view.

P. Abraham Lincoln served as president between 1960 and 1968. - Game Rules = Use of Gregorian calendar to determine dates, use of U.S. Constitution to determine what "serving as president" means.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

By the way, happy Robert Anton Wilson Day to everyone.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

A. Game rule -- If I want my garbage picked up, I have to haul it out.

D. Game rule -- agreed upon standards of measurement.

E.F. -- Playing the astrophysics "game."

G. Following the rules for court trials.

H. The baseball game.

N. The Christian game.

O. The Fascist game.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

I see the the sudden flash of lightning light up the night sky.

I look outside the window and see rain pour down.

I seem to have trouble controlling my temper.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

When I read this chapter,I remembered that Buddhists are instructed to observe their own minds, i.e., instead of 'I am angry,' 'The mind is angry' (as observed by your mind.)

Thom Foolery said...

Consider the subject-predicate form as a Game Rule.... Contemplate the following typical subject-predicate sentences: "The lightning flashed suddenly." "It is now raining out." "I have an uncontrollable temper."

Try to identify the subject, "it" in the sentence: "It is now raining out."

See how subject-predicate Game Rules influence the other two sentences. Can any of you restate them in more phenomenological language?

Subject-predicate Game Rules establish a model of reality in which reality comprises nouns that verb. We can see this most clearly in the sentence "it is raining" - the structure of our language needs to have a noun-subject (in this case, "it") to do the raining. Perhaps the subject of the sentence is actually the rain or the sky or the weather. "The rain is falling," might be one way of restating the sentence. In Turkish (a non-English language with which I am familiar), this is explicit: "Yağmur yağıyor" literally means "the rain is raining." To say, "It is raining," has no meaning in Turkish.

"The lightning flashed suddenly," might become, "I saw the flash of lightning appear suddenly."

"I have an uncontrollable temper," may be more accurately expressed, "At time, I experience anger and subsequently act in ways that are not skillful and that are hard to keep in check."

Does any of this help you see the trick in the two-heads (or infinite heads) argument?

It didn't at first, but then I realized the trick might be the dichotomy between "me" and "my head" resulting from the subject-predicate structure of English. Is my head me or is it something different from me that belongs to me? This sort of self-analysis is at the root of Buddhist and Vedantic meditation.

Thom Foolery said...

Mike Smith, a prolific recent commentator, has suggested dividing them into objects that can be used by themselves vs. ones that require something else for use.

a toy fire truck - can be used by itself, but it helps to have the cool backgrounds and play-sets they use in commercials

a Barbie doll - can be used by itself, more fun with Ken doll and pink Corvette convertible

a reproduction of a Picasso painting - can be appreciated by itself, hanging equipment and knowledge of art can enhance "usage"

a brick - can be used by itself as weapon or paperweight, otherwise needs other bricks and mortars to build a wall

a screw-driver - can be used by itself in limited circumstances, but benefits from having screws

a hammer - can be used by itself to for some purposes,

a turkey feather - can be used by itself to tickle someone, needs inkwell and ink to use as a pen

a piece of balsa wood - this can probably be used by itself in limited circumstances, but needs other things for most uses

a rubber ball - can be used by itself, unless you want to count
the surface it bounces off of as "something else"

a piece of hard wood, such as birch - see balsa above

a "ghetto blaster" (portable stereo) - can be used by itself as radio (unless we consider that radio waves, stations, etc. are "something else"), otherwise it needs prerecorded music

a pornographic novel - needs light source, imagination, and possibly lubrication and facial tissue

a philosophical treatise by Bishop George Berkeley - never useful, either by itself or with philosophy department assistance

That was a wonderful dualism. It really made me think, and revealed how the answer can depend highly on the context and what we mean by "use" and "something else."

Mike Smith said...

I am also a little unsure what Wilson meant by "game rules". I have a feeling he wrote about it in another book but I was unable to find it. This leaves me unable to answer Part 1 with any conviction. Part two made me think of a test I took where for four hours I had to learn a language comprised of gibberish and then had to apply the unusual rules in a meaningful way to answer the questions at the end of the test.

The lightning, with a quickness that seemed to come out of nowhere, caused a display of light so bright I was unable to continue with what I was doing without being aware of its presence.

My reality indicates to me that what I call rain is occurring right now in my general location.

It = Reality

The part of me that is self with which I refer to as "I" is unable to manage control against the chemical onslaught that my body utilizes to activate various emotions that it deems are necessary to my survival, particularly anger which results in my temper taking over my consciousness.

The "it is raining out" makes it very clear the separation of mind and observer, at least to me it does.

The items from the previous chapter I felt could each fall into both categories.

Eric Wagner said...

Instructions given to someone training to become a bishop in Stendhal's The Charterhouse of Parma: "Believe or not, as you choose, what they teach you, but never raise any objection. Imagine that they are teaching you the rules of a game of whist; would you raise any objection to the rules of whist?"

I might consider E and F on page 33 as game rules of forms of quantum mechanics. G seems a game rule of our criminaljustice system, and H seems a game rule of baseball. One might see N as a game rule of certain religions and O as a game rule of some models of patriotism.

In #3 on page 53, "it" in "It is now raining out" might mean "The local environment.

Objects to use by themselves: fire-truck, Barbie, Picasso painting, rubber ball, ghetto blaster, porn novel, book by Berkeley.

phodecidus said...

Yes, Thom Foolery, I took the Quantum Psychology course at The Maybe Logic Academy with RAW and if I recall correctly, he did bring up the Headless Way at some point or other.

Have we deconstructed the exercises as game rules themselves?

How the speaker and their audience receive statements B, C, I, K, L, M and N seem more dependent upon game rules than the other statements while statements A, D, E, F, G, H, J, L, M, N, and O seem like game rules themselves.

One can uses all the items from chapter four alone to some extent.

Chad N. said...

This chapter was the first one that was fairly tough for me to grasp. Not that I didn't understand parts of it, but I'd find myself "getting it", then two minutes later I could no longer remember what "I got".

In any event, I thought I'd start by commenting on the last exercize: attempting to restate the three sentences using more experiential language. Wilson asked if the exercize helped comprehend the two-heads bit.

For me, it really did. You run into the same problem with the exercize as you do with the two-heads thought experiment, which is one of infinite regress. Does that make sense?