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Friday, April 26, 2024

RAW Semantics on RAW, Schrödinger and mind

Erwin Schrödinger in 1933

The new blog post at RAW Semantics, "Sum of all minds," is an "updated/extended (practically new)" piece that rewrites a post originally up in 2020. But in fact is is very timely, as it explains one of the aspects of Reality Is What You Can Get Away With, the new Robert Anton Wilson release from Hilaritas Press. 

When I bought and read Reality, one of the few RAW titles I had never gotten around to, I noticed that the phrase "The sum of all minds is one" (or a very similar version of the same phrase) recurs in the book. 

As Brian explains, the phrase originates with Erwin Schrödinger, the quantum physicist.  it also appears repeatedly in RAW's books. 

"When I first heard the quote, I was amazed, given that it came from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist – it seemed sort of mystical, and totally at odds with modern western definitions of a “mind” (noun) as a kind of metaphorical personal container of thoughts and experiences," writes Brian, who took the trouble to look up what Schrödinger wrote and then explains what it  might mean, discussing the term monism and how it relates to RAW's thinking. 


Brian Dean said...

Thanks for the mention, Tom. Good spot with 'Reality Is What You Can Get Away With'. Schrödinger's interest in Advaita Vedanta, etc, seems evident in the line that RAW liked so much, and in the other passages from Schrödinger that I quote. And being a quantum physicist he arguably heralded the "science and nonduality" groups (such as SAND) that you see now.

michael said...

I'm writing this before reading Brian Dean's essay on RAW and Schrodinger. I'll get to the essay later today and look forward to it, as he's the best writer on RAW in the online world, as I see it as of this date.

Yea, RAW read Schrodinger's enormously influential _What Is Life?_ soon after it came out in translation in English, circa 1948. He would've been 16 and deep in his Engineering and Math. The title essay was a from a talk Schrodinger gave in Dublin in 1943. This book - some of which non-specialists (me) will find impenetrable, is absolutely necessary to understand RAW's take on evolution. Schrodinger linked QM to genetics, before the genetic code had been cracked by Crick and Watson in 1953.

Perhaps this was the text that got RAW thinking about post-Neo-Darwinian ideas, and especially negative entropy and processes that the standard Neo-Darwinian model still can't seem to account for in 2024. He was easily into this, as seen in a 1963 article he wrote for Way Out while in Yellow Springs...

Schrodinger, if he were alive right now, would be "canceled" for reasons I won't go into here. Suffice: he was a pussyhound galore and practice tantra, and preferred his non-wife partners to be young and pretty.

Like many German intellectuals on the early 20th century, they glommed onto everything fellow Indologists and scholars of "the Far East" came back with. Schrodinger - like Oppenheimer after him - was very well-versed in the Vedas and Upanishads, and his quasi-ex-cathedra remarks about monism seem just a twinge verging on fanatical to me. Nevertheless, RAW paid attention to all of this.

Schrodinger and his ideas appear all over RAW's work. In _The Widow's Son_, the One Mind idea is given to Bruno, another member of RAW's Tale of the Tribe:

Sigismundo, writing: "Bruno says there is one mind in the goher digging a hole in somebody's yard in Napoli; and in the woman in labor inside the house to which that yard belongs; and in all the people and animals and insects in Napoli; and in all of Italy; and in all the world; and in millions and millions of similar worlds. And I did contact that universal mind once. I did. I know I did." - p.250 in my old, battered, Lynx ed.

But, in keeping with model agnosticism, see pp.16-17 of Leary's and RAW's _Game of Life_, which looks to be written by RAW and is a critique of monism...

In Amir D. Aczel's book on _Entanglement_ I learned that, of all the sperm Schrodinger deposited in exalted receptacles, one stood out for me: one grandson by another mother became a physicist interested in quantum mechanics, who only THEN found out who his grandfather was. (255)

Eric Wagner said...

DeSelby said, “The sum of all minds is 1.000000000001.”

Brian Dean said...

@Michael: Thanks for that mention of 'The Game of Life', p16/17. I'd been trying to remember where RAW/Leary expressed aversion to "fuzzy Hindu" mysticism, for something quotable - to no avail. That fits the bill. I'd remembered it as an aversion to the ancient moral/cultural baggage that often comes attached, although I imagine the criticism expressed in The Game of Life partly reacts to "Hey, man, it's all one!" type platitudes that must have been common back then (1960s/70s).

On this topic, Schrödinger's writings seem to me "a level above" what RAW/Leary find fault with elsewhere - hence, no doubt, the appeal of it to RAW, as least as far as the "sum of all minds..." quote goes. Actually, that "sum of..." quote appears less "sophisticated" (more platitude-sounding) to me than some other quotable (or paraphrasable) lines from Schrödinger on his Vedantic "monism" interest/belief, eg:

“To divide or multiply consciousness is something meaningless. In all the world, there is no kind of framework within which we can find consciousness in the plural; this is simply something we construct because of the spatio-temporal plurality of individuals, but it is a false construction... The category of number, of whole and of parts are then simply not applicable to it.” (Schrödinger, My View of the World, 1951).

That sounds more like the contemporary "nondual" framing of some folks who talk about "awareness"/"consciousness" as distinct from "mind". I see this as closer to RAW's outlook (Bob W. described "mind" as a concept borrowed from medieval theologians, after all).

michael said...

Addenda: my notes for Schrodinger and _The Game of Life_ was from a very olde ed; a fantastic friend gave me a newer edition a few years ago: New Falcon. There, on pp.26-27 (not 16-17), there had been historical science riffs by Sir. J.G. Bose and Sir Robert Austen, about One-ness in the universe.

Then a dialectic shift, and see if this sounds like RAW or Leary (or both?): "The danger of such pantheistic insights about the unity of nature is that they often freeze thought precisely where it is most illuminating and amusing to explore further. _One_ is a good place to start a number system but an idiot place to stop. 'All is One' has become such a platitude among the intellectually lethargic that is is necessary, today, to emphasize that the Game of Life involves both sequential unity _and_ plurality, both binding serial coherence and infinite diversity, both eternal Law and eternal Play. Intoning 'All is One' adds nothing new to the human information pool..."

Brian Dean said...

@Michael - I found it on p16/17 in my edition (1993 New Falcon - which apparently has around 70 fewer pages than the later edition with Bobby Campbell's tremendous cover). Complete with a little cartoon's caption: "Bose is a fuzzy Hindu, but he's got the right idea". I thought the section starting with Korzybski (p16) sounds more like RAW, but the kind of friendly put-downs of "fuzzy", "bland" Hindu "all is one" "platitudes" on p17 sounded more like Leary. To my mind, the latter not so much a philosophical critique, more an 8-circuit evolutionary progress commentary, like most of the book.

Oz Fritz said...

"The sum of all minds = one mind" and "All is One" appear intrinsically different statements without equivalence. The (paradoxical) ontologies of Thelema (0 = 2; or 1 + negative 1 = 0) and Deleuze (Univocity - the same voice speaks differently through all plurality) read as more sophisticated (and baffling) than either statement, to me.

I do like the last quote from The Game of Life. It seems to come from a sum of Leary and Wilson's minds, as I see it.

michael said...

ADDENDA numero dos:
I hastily wrote that _What Is Life?_ is a must-read, but in most editions of Schrodinger's books that go by that title, "What Is Life?" there are other essays by him collected there. In my cheap old Anchor books paperback the titular essay is pp.1-82 and I don't think it's over the heads of most readers of RAW who, say, also follow layman's QM or layman's genetics.

The subtitle of most copies I've seen - there are very many editions, and I suspect it's because of the massive influence of the "What Is Life?" essay - is "& Other Scientific Essays." This was a pocket paperback put out by a subsidiary of Doubleday in 1956. I strongly suspect the Big 5 publishers today would NOT put out this high level of scientific content for the interested masses in 2024. Why? For many reasons, but this level of science is obviously seen to be unthinkably tough sledding for readers: maybe 'cuz Schrodinger isn't a very good writer for popular consumption? Because of the deliberately dumbed-down after the 1960s factor RAW wrote about? Because of the creeping shit-for-brains of the TV era, which only accelerated with the advent of "smart" phones and (anti)-social media? I don't know, but have suspicions.

"Nature and the Greeks"; "The Future of Understanding" show Schrodinger's intense interest in the pre-Socratics as models for thinking about cutting-edge (1940s) physical scientific thought. "Are There Quantum Jumps?" was often over my head and I read a lot of this kind of stuff. YMMV. Similarly, "Our Conception of Matter."

"On the Peculiarity of the Scientific Worldview" was more tonally similar to "Nature and the Greeks."

The final essay, "The Spirit of Science" has his Vedanta pitch and it's: incidental. There's more Morgan-Mendel theory, Boltzmann, Planck/Einstein/Democritus. His hardcore Vedanta is found in other volumes, such as the one Brian Dean cites.

RAW's Yes/But take on monism, besides the aversion to the anti-science hippies' "Hey man chill: don't you know that all is one?" - his attraction of Pluralism - can be traced to many sources, and I'd just cite Ezra Pound's long, diffuse, complicated and at times nutty and antisemitic arguments for pluralism: monotheism was seen as One-ness, but nature is wildly proliferative, sexy and diverse. Monotheism/monism gave rise to abstraction and took us away from vital life processes. The inventors of Monotheism, the Jews, somehow infected Aristotle, whose syllogistic logic Pound thought was nefarious, for similar reasons that Korzybski saw, but also very different ones. Etc.

Steve Fly Agaric said...

River-ting. I'll throw down some quotes from ttotters, to get at what I want to get at (language vs the equation) hopefully spark a further thought or three.

"There are then an infinity of mobile bodies and motive forces, and all of these reduce to a single passive principle and a single active principle, just as every number reduceth to unity, and as infinite number doth coincide with unity; and just as the supreme Agent and supreme active power doth coincide in a single principle with the supreme potentiality, patient of all creation, as hath been shewn at the end of our book On Cause, Origin and the One. In number then, and in multitude, there is infinite possibility of motion and infinite motion. But in unity and singularity is infinite motionless motive force, an infinite motionless universe. And the infinite number and magnitude coincide with the infinite unity and simplicity in a single utterly simple and indivisible principle, which is Truth and Being.--Giordano Bruno (On the Infinite, Fifth Dialogue).

"Joyce decomposes and recomposes Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s summary of Giordano Bruno’s theory: “Every power in Nature and in Spirit must evolve an opposite, as the sole means and condition of its manifestation: and all opposition is a tendency to Re-union. This is the universal Law of Polarity or essential Dualism” (Coleridge 94; emphasis in original). Epitomized in the dialectical relation between “hilariohoot” and “tristitone” (punning on Bruno’s motto “In tristitia hilaris hilaritate tristis”)––a “cumjustled symphysis” that culminates in a community of contrasts––Joyce’s chaosmos embraces the unknowable things-in-us, namely, the unconscious mind that behaves like spectral subatomic particles, as long as “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s” like a flux of virtuality that runs past even atoms.--Pingta Ku, “The abnihilisation of the etym”: Finnegans Wake’s
Entanglement in Quantum Ideality.

"“but an emergent computation in the en-troped structure of evolutionary possibility itself, (what Althusser, echoing Marx, calls “an authorless theatre”[38]) defining a “Noösphere” analogous to Fuller’s synergetics, a global “geometry of thought”[39] or internet of everything.--Louis Armand, Entropology.

Brian Dean said...

I just want to add that where RAW discusses Schrödinger's non-plural mind notion (as opposed to providing it as an isolated "quote to ponder") he also discusses the *non-local*, eg Bohm's "mind-like" hidden variable, "the nonlocal Tao", etc.

I thought this seemed obvious from the sections I quoted in my blog (from The New Inquisition and Coincidance), but perhaps it could use some further emphasis. The last five or six paragraphs of chapter 6 of The New Inquisition make it clear why RAW favours Schrödinger's non-plural mind/consciousness notion here. Non-plural, I would say, implies non-local in this context - and strictly speaking, non-countable rather than "one".

"In other words, the You who is making the grass green is non-local. The local You is, like the greenness of the grass, or the flatness of Earth, a social Game Rule or hallucination." - RAW, The New Inquisition, Ch6

michael said...

Yes: one glaring interpretation of Bell's Theorem - that every particle that has once interacted with any other particle is always connected and responds to that particle at faster than light speed, anywhere in the universe - strongly suggests that everything - since the Big Bang - is connectedto everything else. And that would be Monism as a given. And we're all made of that star-stuff. Every hydrogen/water/nitrogen/potassium/chloride/sodium/carbon atom in us is all One. Etc.

Our minds in 2024 hear this or read about this and - speaking for myself - it sounds just too fantastic to be true. But it seems to be right there in the math and physics.

I suspect those circuits that make the "self" or Ego, are expert at detecting - or seeming to detect - Me vs. Not-Me. And there must be an error somewhere. My money's on the math and physics; Ego has been wrong far too many times in my localized life!