Great analysis. Thanks.

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Polanyi left a potential Nobel in chemistry behind sixty years ago, and dedicated his life to study what she is trying to explain on that note about “communicative intents”. So a frustration paper is not a bad thing.

Anyway, I don’t read the news, and neither of them gets to the point. Reality is two steps removed.

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The SALAMI suggestion reminds me of the old Warner Brother cartoons where vaguely Middle Eastern characters would show up with Alladin's Lamp, and trying to figure out the magic words, would twist "salaam" into "Salami, Salami.... Baloney!". A WB GIF might be a nice addition to the new process of AI mocking.

Meanwhile, it's remarkable how much "Form" and "Meaning" correlate with the respective roles of the right and left hemisphere. I've been impressed since 2010 with Iain McGilchrist's rather extraordinary study of the hemispheres in his book, "The Master and His Emissary.". But in his most recent masterpiece, "The Matter With Things," he comes out explicitly with the statement that the most important thing for humanity today is to get past our physicalist delusion.

McGilchrist has now spent 30 years studying the neurological literature on the role of the hemispheres. As profound as Gebser's writing is (quite a bit beyond anything McGilchrist appears to see), it seems that Iain's work is accessible to many people, and may reach them regarding AI, war, and since I see Rod here in the comments, evoking the absolutely essential need for wonder, to "be" with the "World" in a state of utter (mental) unknowing, childlike innocence, opening, surrender.

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Oops, sorry I got that reversed. Form/left hemisphere and meaning/right hemisphere. Of course it's not that simplistic and as Iain himself would say, BOTH hemispheres are involved in the awareness/construction of form and both involved in awareness/construction/understanding of meaning - but each has a very secondary role, as indicated in the title of his first book - the right hemisphere is at its best foundational, the left, secondary.

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Thanks for drawing my attention to Iain McGilchrist.

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Apr 17, 2023·edited Apr 17, 2023

Sure. This was posted some years back but is still one of the simplest, most accessible intros to his views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFs9WO2B8uI&t=558s

But for most up-to-date works, his channel is excellent: https://www.youtube.com/@DrIainMcGilchrist It's interesting to go through and see how he's kind of getting close but not quite "there."

Interesting parallel in Sri Aurobindo - in his early writing on the education of the "buddhi," he speaks of the "left hand" faculties that are critical, manipulate, grasp, etc (related to left hemisphere) and "right hand" faculties that are comprehensive, that understand, that master (related to the right hemisphere). McGilchrist even used the parable of the master and his emissary (right and left hemispheres) for his first book, and Sri Aurobindo describes the relationship of these critical and comprehensive faculties in almost precisely the same relationship.

In Synthesis, he refers to the "higher buddhi," reflections of which you can see throughout McGilchrist's work, though again, he's "as if peering through a glass darkly" when he alludes to it.

Vladimir Yatsenko has worked much on the understanding of the 4 functions of mind, vijnana, ajnana, prajnana and samjnana - the reflections of the supramental faculties in the mind. If you take that and look at the stunning parallels in McGilchrist's work, there's glimpses of an integral yoga psychology which I haven't seen put together anywhere - yet.

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Apr 27, 2023·edited Apr 27, 2023Liked by Ulrich Mohrhoff

People is conflating two things which bear no relation. Modernity is not evil materialism, as opposed to some form of “spirituality” where we see through meaning, modernity is technique, which is a self-justified idea that pervades every form of human interaction in this, entirely abstract, world. The fact that this is not pointed out, and we continue talking about “the best way to solve this crisis”, “to understand this fact”, this catastrophe we are facing, in absolute desperation and impotence, only shows how deeply we have been buried into the technological narrative of means to no end. It shows how easily the Artificial Machine is, in fact, modern man already, and it’s natural ecosystem is modern society already. There is nothing to be alarmed about “tomorrow”, we are already there. A contradiction like this has never existed in the entire history of life on Earth, and we can be sure of one thing, it will never exist after either, because it is unresolvable. That someone is still trying to figure this out “in the brain” is unsurprising. Good luck with that. What does Doidge or Eagleman have to say about us? Nothing.

“[All that they] offer us as spiritual values, are in fact only the artificial scenery in which technique advances. They are the illusion offered to human beings to make them accept this desert, the appearance that hides the appalling desiccation of the world they are living in.” (Ellul, Presence in the Modern World, p.49)

“The megamachine operates best in what is an ecological, cultural, and personal lunar desert, swept only by solar winds.” (Mumford, The Myth of the Machine, vol.II, p.168)

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And btw Ulrich, what Ellul says about concentration camps is scary, and is true (p.46).

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I had a look at Ethan Mollick's substack. The posts themselves are quite good, but in the comments of a few posts there were those saying how people basically are "word prediction machines".

It surprises me that people can write things like this, since it's almost immediately refuted by basic experience.

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“So long as Matter was Alpha and Omega to the scientific mind, the reluctance to admit intelligence as the mother of intelligence was an honest scruple. But now it is no more than an outworn paradox to affirm the emergence of human consciousness, intelligence and mastery out of an unintelligent, blindly driving unconsciousness in which no form or substance of them previously existed. Man’s consciousness can be nothing else than a form of Nature’s consciousness. It is there in other involved forms below Mind, it emerges in Mind, it shall ascend into yet superior forms beyond Mind. For the Force that builds the worlds is a conscious Force, the Existence which manifests itself in them is conscious Being and a perfect emergence of its potentialities in form is the sole object which we can rationally conceive for its manifestation of this world of forms.” [Sri Aurobindo, LD 97]

Although this was first published in May 1915, the outworn paradox has remained an outworn paradox. In its most recent twist, “we are all zombies” has turned into “we are all stochastic parrots.” When you say that this is almost immediately refuted by basic experience, what you are actually saying is that you consider it refuted by what you consider “basic experience.”

In Vol. 16 of his Complete Works, which contains some of his translations of and commentaries on the Rig Veda, Sri Aurobindo keeps stressing that the view of life (as well as of Yoga) “as a struggle between the Devas & Daityas is one of the most fundamental ideas of Veda, Purana, Tantra and every practical system in Hinduism.” [HMF 483] The Devas are Powers of Light, the Daityas Powers of Darkness. The basic experience of the latter is that matter is the only reality. They will demand objective evidence of the reality of an irreducibly subjective aspect of reality, and nothing you might say will convince them.

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Certainly what you say is correct, what flummoxes me with these comments is that they seem to go a step further into complete stupidity.

For example when my graphics card reports that it has overheated, this is because its thermal sensors triggered in a way that activated certain circuits...etc...ultimately leading to the overheating report. Nobody would say the Operating System simply stochastically generated a response based on average types of responses seen following certain user interface actions.

Similarly when I ask somebody if they are hungry, even older brands of materialists would not say the resulting answer "Yes, I am hungry" was stochastically generated by some Bayesian procedure over sentences typically following "are you hungry?". Rather they would think it's a much more complex form of the imagined mechanistic process behind the graphics card response, i.e. it's in some ways connected into biological "sensors" that report hunger.

To go this additional step and say people are simply stochastically generating responses is part of a trend I've noticed where even materialism alone is not enough any more for some people. It must be the most contentless and "degrading" form of it.

Perhaps though I'm being naive and this is the logical endpoint of materialism as it seeks to isolate itself in an internally self-convincing bubble.

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Ah but you are assuming that people know how to think! LOL

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Apr 20, 2023Liked by Ulrich Mohrhoff

Ha! True indeed!

I recently finished the 2nd Edition of your quantum mechanics textbook. It was a wonderful read. You found the precise words to express what I think about decoherence, that I wouldn't have said correctly myself before. Once I get my thoughts in order about it, I'll leave comment on an appropriate post here.

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in other words, it's not the modern culture itself, and really, not even so much the purely intellectual view of the dead world.

It's a way of attending to experience that cuts out all that matters.

And it's actually the easiest thing in the world, once you realize that, to shift attention.

Shift back to the open, boundlessness which we already are, always.

That's the easy part.

The hard part is to stop looking out at what we think is wrong, and recognize the anger, revenge seeking, fear, craving, etc that shapes our every thought, feeling and impulse.

Each moment each of us stops looking out and starts taking responsibility, we give a gift to the whole world - no, the whole universe, since as Sri Aurobindo has repeatedly said (though mostly ignored because it sounds like "illusionism") there is no "world" in the way we "think" about it.

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