virus: Rationality

Reed Konsler (
Wed, 26 Feb 1997 11:47:17 -0500


> Similarly, when you learn to shoot moving targets with a shotgun, your brain
> is taught, by repeated trials with reward/punishment schedules, to simulate
> the processing that Patriot missile launchers (almost) do with highly
> structured maths. Your nervous system doesn't calculate trajectories of
> anything as such, you don't feel the numbers fly through your mind, you
> don't sense the trigonometry and the integration maths being done, and I'd
> argue that it ISN'T done... what happens is a process of ideas (here, mainly
> patterns of perceptions and motor actions) interacting, from which the
> overall shooting movement emerges.


>I found that when using a shotgun, one does not go for an "overall shooting
>movement", but rather a judgement. I should imagine that the brain is having
>a dman good go at judging the angles, and velocities, but simply isn't telling
>your consciousness. Just think, if your brain told you what it was doing all
>the time, your conscious side would be overloaded!

Absolutely. Ones mind has limited processing capability. I'd like to
point out that this limit is not reached simply in motor-functions like
marksmanship, carpentry, or sewing. Cognitively we are also limited by our
ability to keep track of things. This is why people create ideologies,
like Objectivism, Levels, or Existentialism. We are unable to keep track
of EVERYTHING in our perceptual space. A tremendous amount of information
gets filtered "pre-cognitively"...before you even know you might have
percieved it (see Dennnet: "Conciousness Explained" for many good

But we also filter cognitively. We generalize; we ignore "errant" data.
We are designed to appreciate a half-assed theory we understand over a
whole-assed one that is beyond us...a sort of evolved cognitive

We create symbolic systems like language to help us keep track of and
manipulate the variables and often, with practice, these symbolic systems
become internalized. We all "think" in language becuase that symbolic
framework allows us to use our limited processing power to circumscribe a
greater world than we could without it.

But the limit of cognition is always there. In desiring a broader scope we
must accept more ambiguity, uncertianty, abstractness, etc. This trade off
has allowed human beings to accomplish and experience everything we find
worthy and significant.

But our minds are designed to ignore integrate the
singularities of experience. As your eye sacades across this screen you
ignore the rapid stochastic movement of the focal area and create the
"virtual reality" of visual perception. Most of us reflexively ignore the
"floaters" cells shed from the iris...that move across that focal
plain, until we take a blow to the head or are just waking up (are we
re-booting our vision programs then?). Everyone, I think, is amazed to
discover they have a visual blind spot.

We are a visual culture. It bespeaks our natural ability to integrate and
to ignore inconsistency that this metaphor for conciousness is not more
telling. "So I have a VISUAL blind spot," we say "that doesn't mean I have
a cognitive blind spot". I am always amazed how people (including myself)
are so adept at shrugging off the knowledge that even what we think we SEE
is manufactured. How ambigious what we think must be, ne?

Our ideologies are an expression of our limited minds. We are all limited.
We are not Gods and we are not omnipotently free. But we do have will.
And we can, with effort, come to some sort of understanding. But we need
each other. No one person is going to hold the truth in their head, alone.
But, together, we might circumscribe it. The scientist needs the artist,
and the objectivist the astrologer. There is no one right way for EVERYONE
to think.

If you percieve the "Truth" or "Reality" as a solid fortification defending
you from everyone else you are a mental feudalist living in a mind-castle
which is also a mind-prison. People are sometimes, even often, dangerous.
Each of us is born in a world of it any wonder we aren't all
schizophrenic? But to say: "I can only talk to X if they agree that Y and
Z are essential" is to try and opress someone else with your own visions.

So we are all playing the trade-off game. People shouldn't kill each can't have such freedom of ideology that you must kill.
Although I kind of liked how Hannibal Lecter was portrayed in "Silence of
the Lambs". Homicidal, chillingly deranged. Brilliant and insightful.
Such people need to kept behind walls...for all of our protection. But
behind walls, what might we see through their eyes? I do not belive that
every deranged vision we try to comprehend makes us more deranged. I don't
want to push this point far, though, as I am as horrified at violence as
any civilized person.

What is acceptible? How much freedom should we be allowed? Good
questions...and we all hack together our answers and hack apart one
anothers with telling "hypotheticals".

I don't know, this is just my opinion:

It is beyond the pale to demand that people think like you to be deserving
of your respect or tolerance. If I don't accept to axiom of "identity" as
essential or "Level 3" as an aspiration I would hope that my fellow
travellers could accept this and we could still share our ideas. Not as
some mission of seems almost immoral to try to make crude
copies of ones ideology within someone else's head. Perhaps I am a
particularly mindful of the mind but I cannot think of a more reprehensible
intent. I have held my tounge on occasions when people have refered to
"skull-fucking" and such...but what kind of image is this to transmit?
Must the sharing of ideas always be a memetic rape? Are we all so
disconnected from our own humanity that we have forgotten the pleasure that
a society of equals brings? Are we so scarred (scared)?

We need to learn to communicate in non-violent terms. I am hardly a good
example, but I insist that this is an imperative.


(sorry for drifting off-topic)

Reed Konsler