Re: virus: Rationality

Tim Rhodes (
Fri, 28 Feb 1997 09:47:40 -0800 (PST)

On Wed, 26 Feb 1997, Reed Konsler wrote:

> 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
> examples).
> 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
> utilitarianism.
> 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.

In actuality, Reed, this post IS a damn good example. (I liked it so
much I just wanted it to show up again on the list!)

(the Professor turns to Reed, swaggers, and with upturned hands chimes,)
"You da' man, Reed. You da' muddafck'n MAN!!!"

Prof. Tim