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The Tables Turned
BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

I’ve been reading up on this and have found a number of good articles. But this article is what looks like the best one, from, of all places, the DailyKos.

I hope I read it soon!

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OK, here’s the ultimate reference and review of this whole mind-body thing, or rather consciousness, from a Quantum mechanical point of view. It includes within it Henry Stapp’s theory just as one approach out of many. I’m really going to try to read the whole thing, I think. Just want an overview. It was written by Dr. Harald Atmanspacher.

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I came across the following on Henry Stapp’s Wiki:

Stapp favours the idea that quantum waves collapse only when they interact with consciousness. He argues that quantum waves collapse when intelligent brains select one among the alternative quantum possibilities as a basis for future action.

This seems crazy at first glance, but here’s a further sentence from his Wiki:

Stapp postulates more global collapse via his ‘mind like’ wave-function collapse that exploits certain aspects of the quantum Zeno effect within the synapses to explain attention.

If you check out the above link to the quantum Zeno effect, you find something strange indeed. Say no more! Except the effect is related to the Turing paradox!

Over and out for now.

Oh, before I go, here’s another link: Physics and Whitehead Workshop.

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Almost invariably when I check Psybertron I find something that fascinates me. Today his reference to the book Mindful Universe by Henry Stapp, started me on a search for explanations. There are several Youtubes of Henry Stapp trying to explain his theory, and a fascinating but very hard for me to follow, debate between Stapp and Matthew J. Donald. So, what is he basically trying to say? He’s making a connection between quantum theory, eastern mysticism, and the mind-body problem, if I have that right and not oversimplified it too much. Another related link I found is a long talk by Carlo Rovelli,”Science is not About Certainty: A Philosophy of Physics”.

My work is cut out if I want to understand any of this.

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Sam Harris is a well known atheist, a hater of religion along with the other “horsemen”, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Dan Dennett, but he has this mystical side. That word, mystical, must be defined very carefully, however, or the wrath of Sam will be upon you.

Here is a good tract by Sam Harris in which he goes into this. He argues that secularism has no content other than its negativity:

To be secular, one need do nothing more than live in perpetual opposition to the unsubstantiated claims of religious dogmatists.

The “mysticism” he espouses has to do with meditation and the mystery of consciousness. Here is the last sentence of his third note in his article:

Still, consciousness remains a genuine mystery, and anyone who attempts to study it is confronted by serious conceptual and empirical problems

Antonio Damasio, a well known neuroscientist, has a new book out in which he attempts to explain consciousness scientifically. However, John Searle, a well known American philosopher takes issue with Damasio’s claim in his New York Review of Books article, The Mystery of Consciousness Continues.

All very interesting.

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Lawrence Krauss (the officianados call him Larry;) has answered the question Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? in his new book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing, or should I say he has claimed to have answered the question.

But I’m sure old Martin Heidegger, Nazi sympathizer that he was, is rolling over in his grave now saying, “No, he hasn’t. The Nothing that Krauss uses is really not the true Nothing, but already a Something. The true Nothing is not empty space but the absence of empty space altogether, in fact, “There was not then what is nor what is not.”, as found in the Song of Creation from the Rig Veda is perhaps an approximate, and only approximate, way of characterizing the Nothing.”

I hope my translation of his German is accurate. Old Martin was talking really fast and sputtering in frustration from his grave there. But I think I caught the gist of it, I hope.

LOL

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Every so often I check out The Edge. Here’s what its purpose is:

To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.

The Edge question for 2012 is WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DEEP, ELEGANT, OR BEAUTIFUL EXPLANATION?

Explanation for what? Well, the universe of course! Are they kidding? No, and they get quite a bunch of answers, 192 in fact. LOL!

If you have nothing to do sometime, check them out. Well, at least scan through them. You might be amazed.

The very first response in the list of 192 is by Andrei Linde, Professor of Physics at Stanford and father of the Eternal Chaotic Inflation theory. He begins by a quote from Albert Einstein, “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.” Off to a good start, if true. I haven’t read much beyond the 2nd paragraph yet.

And then there’s the beautiful and brilliant Rebecca Goldstein asking an even deeper question, “Why does the beauty of an explanation have anything to do with its being true?” She leaves that question unresolved. Good for her!

Well, I could spend the rest of the day, and then some, scanning through these 192. Psybertron has brief insightful summarries of a whole lot of them here.

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God versus Rationality may be a better way of phrasing the Religion versus Science debate. I always find great food for thought on Psybertron, and here’s some of that great food: Privilege which suggests we have not quite proven that we do not have a privileged place in the universe. This is well worth a serious read, including especially, the Larry Kraus quote linked to, and all the other links there. I’m still working on it and may not get to the end in my lifetime.

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Just discovered an interview by Third Way magazine of a Professor John Carey who appears to be a religious agnostic. Here are some excerpts that caught my fancy:

I also think that the notion that science, or logic, is capable of something you might say is truth is itself quite questionable. I mean, the human brain, the scientists tell us, is a piece of meat with electric impulses going through it. Now, why should that piece of meat have some connection with something called ‘truth’? You know? I don’t see why they’re so sure about it. It seems to me the whole business is so uncertain that their dogmatic certainty seems extraordinary.


And aggression – well, obviously, aggression is, alas, what you don’t want.
There’s another thing about the human brain from that point of view – going back to Richard Dawkins. He often talks about awe, doesn’t he? About how you don’t need religion because science gives you awe and wonder – as if religion only gives you awe and won­der! But awe and wonder, it seems to me, are simply traceable to the deficiencies of the human brain as it has dev­eloped over the millennia. What it’s developed to do is to, well, solve simple physical problems – make stone axes and so on. And if you look at subatomic particles and think how awesome they are – well, they’re only awesome because we’re completely unable to deal with them. What Dawkins calls ‘awe’ is actually ignorance. I don’t see anything particularly wonderful about it.

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