Cosmos Café: Alternate Ways of Knowing [12/12]

Nice to hear from you again, Mr. Dockus. The video reminds me, impressionistically, of a couple of my comparative literature courses in college. It is, perhaps, para to this thread, dangled down from a point above space-and-time consciousness. I am reminded, as well, of a good friend who once told me, “I don’t believe in paradox”—which I regarded as a paradoxical claim, coming from a nondual mystic. Whereof one cannot speak…I believe because it is absurd.

If you go building with Peter Rose, you vocabulary sand castle might become awash with sea foam. Maybe stick with your monastery analogy (In your personal introduction). Reading your and @JDockus’s infinite archived conversations here have been a delight. Hope you come back home here for more than just a holiday visit.

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" Sometimes it becomes more than just a duty to speak one’s mind, it becomes a pleasure."-Oscar Wilde

In a previous cafe ( from which this episode emerges) I am at pains to describe a few of the serendipitous events that have occurred to me. It is out of collecting such events and those reported to me that I have undertaken to study this odd topic with our group. This has been mostly experiential, as I am working towards a qualitative research project, from which the drawings have come. It is an open frame.

Those previous episodes on the cafe may give you some background for this conversation, and what my references were. Most of my metaphor comes from theater experiences.

These are efforts to explore what the heart might know. I’m sure you have stories of your own to share but then again you might want to keep them private. I think it is always a risk what one self-discloses in a public forum such as this one.

I am hoping for more vigorous first person accounts of a basically unknowable territory. I have often found that Trickster figures appear during transitions, such as we try to represent in our maps here. There are few models of how our models are actually made. It is what is going on behind the scenes that is of interest to me so I stick with a method, which the group becomes familiar with.

How to model the subjective structure of anyone is notoriously messy, hence, the need for a special kind of questioning, which is not conversational. It is a method for discovering forms that then may start to transform. I dont think we are at that stage in the process yet but maybe with some careful protection to guard against the mudslinging of the Tricksters among us, something may endure.

In this video I do catch the genuine.There are some real toads in the imaginary garden.

" Spirit is a synonym for style."-Douglas Hofstader

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My water vessel on this longest night, the S.S. Post-Construction:


And with all of that…what happens next?

A new practice might emerge, as I review this crazy quilt of memories, dreams and reflections, from this cafe episode and the ones that follow. I can intuit a beginning, a middle, and an end, and can build up a dossier of our community creating itself. A Knowing with a capital K.

I hear different motifs, what is said, what is unsaid, want could have happened but didn’t. I currently know what happened next and can recall what happened after that and mark it out, using this technology to do so. This is a new kind of Self-Reflexive potential, just coming into form.

Perhaps we are more than just idiots signifying nothing. We can, perhaps, sense with the trans- physical senses, fine tune, lay down some new tracks…and then what happens?

What comes next…Timelessness…applying Gebser’s Model…

Being Time Free and taking it out into the world…too much harmony, too much resonance…I just dont believe it…this needs to be incorporated into a modeling process…modeling process points to principle…

Theories are easy…modeling is hard…it is important to hang out with old people, rocks, trees…the long now…

Any other possibilities emerging for you this Christmas day, as we tune into the last heart beat of the Ancient Child?

Cosmos Café: Fractal Time in Everyday Life - YouTube[quote=“madrush, post:31, topic:1596”]


][quote=“madrush, post:17, topic:1596”]
I have been listening to Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence audiobook, and it is striking how in thrall the field of AI research and development is to rational actor theory and cognitive neuroscience in general—powerful disciplines, to be sure; frighteningly so, if some of the scenarios for the intelligence explosion described by Bostrom are to be believed—but what’s missing from the picture is precisely the question of experience.

The scenario described by Bostrom is not to be believed. It is nonsense. Is the brain like a computer? The simple answer is NO! And the reasons are obvious. I have fought these absurd reductionist metaphors for most of my adult life, and I am now seeing the huge destruction that this craziness is creating. We need new metaphors!

In this video, a mathematician, debunks the search for the ultimate algorithm. He explains why the AI crowd is promoting this idea. They are arrogant and ignorant and they are misleading the uneducated masses into a great disaster. Edward points through the Mental Deficient Smog to a higher ground where you can breathe better air, and see much further. Alternate Ways of Knowing come in many shapes and sizes.

Perhaps another author to include in our Cafe conversations next year? He makes obvious good sense.


Yuval Harari, in Homo Deus, mentions that we equate our consciousness with the latest technology. Freud and others in the 19th and 20th century compared the brain to a machine. Currently we are stuck of the computer/algorithmic consciousness. When the next wave of tech arrives, we will analogize the brain with it. Much like a singular focus upon science of our current time, we tend to forget that the next wave of science will sweep away what we previously had in mind. The issue is not the analogy, for the brain is like a computer in a certain sense, but the mind is not the brain.
@madrush mentions the lack of experiencial “data” used by Bostrom and I agree. I read the first couple hundred pages of the book last year and kept thinking of the ethical and psychological dimensions that had been omitted. Bostrom does this intentionally, only wishing to speculate within his field of expertise…though even then, the book is 95% educated speculation.

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Ah, yes … reintroducing a much-needed, too-long-overlooked, and simply neglected notion: hubris. (What would Shakespeare have been without it?) Nail. Head.

And the elegance of the hubris of thinking that the mind is only about thinking … he is right: even a small dose of humility would be well worth taking. I doubt though that those who need to hear that are listening.

Sense he does make.


What we do, I think, is mistake our metaphors for reality, but I’m not convinced that we’re stuck with the computer metaphor of consciousness. That horse has been being flogged for at least 40 years and I – as well as many, many others, like Edward Frenkel – haven’t bought it yet. It’s still currently in vogue in some circles, but these are getting both smaller and fewer. If I weren’t such a curmudgeon, I’d say there is still hope.

What is perhaps a bit different these days is the psychological reversal that has occurred both within and without those circles, to wit, the (mental) superiority of our technology. Horses and elephants and other animals were always stronger than humans, and that was OK as long as what was needed was brute, physical force and strength. We could always say “yes, but we’re smarter because we’re humans”.

What has happened though is that some folks truly believe that the computer is smarter than we are, that it is more intelligent, that it is therefore superior (finally) in the one way that (materialists at any rate) would say marked us humans out as different from other living creatures. That final hurdle, they believe, has been overcome. And so, what we now show is reverential deference to our technology, we experience what the German philosopher Günther Anders calls our “Promethean Shame”, our feeling of inferiority in its presence.

The AI-geeks, the Kurzweils and Kelleys, are groveling to become lackeys of the first order in the Kingdom-to-Come. And like all court eunuchs they know they cannot succeed without enough support and more groveling from below. Yes, computers (and smart phones and Lord knows what-not) can give the appearance that they are smart, but that smartness is more illusory than the selfness of the individual the materialists like to deny.

Fortunately, there is a growing swell of sense that is exposing these folks for what they are, and there is a growing number of sensible people who are willing to stand up for a more integral understanding of what it means to be human and a conscious factor in the universe. In the end, blocking out what one does not like or what one cannot deal with doesn’t get any of us anywhere.


I agree, and I think I misrepresented Harari a bit. He writes that algorithms, not computers, are used in our advancing analogies and, as a result, our advancing technologies. This is of great concern for Harari…

Antonio Damasio’s “We Must Not Accept an Algorithmic Account of Human Life” references Harari and states both of their points succinctly and successfully. Also a quote from Harari that Damasio references in the above article:

When asked “If you had to pick one idea that will be most influential in the next 50 years, what would it be?”:

For the next 50 years, it’s definitely the algorithm. The whole of science is converging on this master idea of processing data in an algorithmic way, and this will cause the whole of economics and politics to converge on the same idea. The whole of biology since Darwin can be summarized in three words: “Organisms are algorithms.” Simultaneously, computer scientists have been learning how to create better and better electronic algorithms. Now these two waves — the one coming from biology and the other coming from computer science — are merging around this master concept of the algorithm, and their merger will create a tsunami that will wash everything in its way. The basic insight which unites the biological with the electronic is that bodies and brains are also algorithms. Hence the wall between machines and humans, between computer science and biology, is collapsing and I think the next century and probably the future of life itself will be shaped by this algorithmic view of the world.

We should think very hard about it and we should regulate it and we don’t have enough time. I don’t know much about the Chinese government in this respect, but certainly in Israel, and from what I see in the western world in general, the governments are pretty much oblivious to the danger, and they are not doing anything remotely enough about this issue. I don’t think you can completely stop it because the the basic scientific insight of the 21st century is that organisms are algorithms and that we can write algorithms artificially. This is not a genie you can put back in the bottle. But technology’s not deterministic. There is no determinism about where this idea would lead us in the coming decades, so we should aim not just to regulate but to somehow guide this tsunami in a better and wiser direction.


Edward Frenkel, who is a mathematician, knows what algorithms are, and states that these men are pretty stupid and are confusing the public by their arrested development.

They are like teenage boys ( girls would never be so dumb) who take a trigonometry class and declare the world is nothing but trigonometry.

Bostrom doesn’t go outside of his expertise because he doesn’t make any sense. There is no excuse for such narrow minded triumphalism. Integral thinkers they are not.

I hope, Ed, that the the growing swell would get much larger and topple these idiots before they destroy the delicate shelter Nature provides for us. They may not be able to do much good but their theories can certainly reek a lot of havoc.

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(interrupted earlier at the dentist’s and didn’t quite make it to the hubris comment by Frenkel…I second the inclusion in a future Cafe.)

Sam Harris is my favorite master of the hubrix cube. I quoted and we noted in an early Cosmos Cafe that he has finally stepped out of this arrogance (though still in denial about his contribution to the New Atheist movement, never apologizing for the mess created, the minions produced, etc.)
If is not ignorant individuals who promote in the name of, it will be the arrogant SOB’s who perpetuate the mess. We have the climate deniers and the climate profiteers.

…and since we seem to have awoken from our hibernation, don’t mind if I add more references, posts, and media to consume. Below is the Harris podcast with Thomas Metzinger mentioned awhile back that I neglected to reference. It is relevant to this thread, I think.

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Sorry again if I failed to clarify Harari’s stance on the issue. My writing style is like my thinking…everywhere all at once…
Harari is a deep thinker. Harari is describing the way the world is and the direction we, as a whole, are heading…if we do not stop the mess. Reread the second block quote in post 37. Harari is a historian by profession and gives us an alternate history in his books Sapiens and Homo Deus, equating humanism, capitalism with religion (in the negative connotation).

Bostrom is also an “AI doomsayer”…his ideas are more of a warning than that of trying to get out the next new thing. I do not have copy of Superintelligence on hand, but my notes have a few noteworthy quotes (unknown page references):

Our fate lies in whether we can succeed or fail with the task of controlling our Superintelligence.

This is not a book about “technological acceleration” or “exponential growth” or the miscellaneous notions sometimes gathered under the rubric of “the singularity.”


Sorry, Doug, I loathed Metzinger’s crypto-nihisist book, and have no desire to re-enter the dead men walking zone again. I take your word for it that Harris may have grown up a little bit, over the last decade, and I am ready to re-direct my attention to those who are making faster progress.

Is there a relationship between any of these machine metaphors and our Maps of Intuition or Maps of Time? Just reviewing the last few episodes and following the metaphors that are shaping our inter subjective musings, here at Cosmos cafe, it seems pretty obvious to me no algorithm is going to surpass us anytime soon.


Rather than being parallel lines that will converge at a further point in time (or space…i do not know which is what or what is which any longer!), these are in a perpendicular clashing, though our “maps” are willing to include at least some thoughts upon the other. My personal history had me interested in all of this machine/AI stuff, but thanks to folks found here and elsewhere, it is now but only a tangential aspect, good for a visit every now and then.


I edited my previous post because I confused Harari with the Hassari (?), who is mentioned by Frankel on the video. Pardon.


As a courtesy to you, Doug, I listened to the podcast and I wondered about it. I recognize the relevance to this thread and also admit how creepy they feel to me. It is a case of the bland leading the bland. They have some good ideas and are accomplished people but they still have not done the really hard work of going inside the observer and conduct a regression in service of the transcendent. That is why they continue to recreate these circular arguments that go nowhere. They project onto AI the need for a benevolent father figure, which AI will never deliver. They are out of touch with the mythical and the magical, having rightly noted the dark side of those structures, without noticing the dark side of their own deficient rationalism.

In contrast to this, I offer another short video from Frenkel, in which he suggests another way. Perhaps we can go into the observer, engage the wreck that happened when we decided that love is just a chemical reaction, happening somewhere between our neuron assemblies, falling into the isolated left side of the neo-cortex. This Cartesian trauma has been passed down for generations but can be acknowledged and dealt with.

Frenkel demonstrates how to take the steps towards reconciling these Cartesian splits ( which I believe Metzinger and Harris are still in the gooey center of). They strike me as deeply dissociated, above it all, and as delusional as everyone they look down upon.

Frenkel is much more generous than I am! Here he offers some public therapy to Ray Kurzwiel and all of those spiritual machines, who have made a sad effort to transcend without any actual embodiment.

Edward touches, I believe, the Magical within himself, while staying grounded in the healthy Mental. This is what I find missing in the Harris conversation. Harris is still cut off from and denies the healthy Magical even though none of the Mental makes much sense without those earlier and deeply denied structures.

“We deny the power and energy of the little ones…instead we create all of these theories.” There is hope.


I didn’t expect much going in (Harris has changed his tone but not his fundamental position; as for Metzinger (I’m assuming the German philosopher from Mainz), there is not a soup on the planet he couldn’t find a hair in), and as good as nothing coming out.

Sorry. Everybody but these two apparently know that you can’t logically get to a “should” from an “is”, that there is a huge distinction between knowing and understanding, and that arrogance is really not a method (Eastern thought is more enlightened but look what a mess they made of their cultures; Buddhism would be great if you could just shitcan the religious parts; etc.), and neither is projection (evolution has done some really nasty things along its way). And these were things the two of them agreed on. My boat’s not floating, I can assure you.

And I don’t even want to get started on the thought-experiment-that-wasn’t: a textbook example of Anders’ notion of Promethean shame supported by unsound assumptions and wrapped up in flawed logic (again: is ≠> should). Metzinger just wasn’t begging the question here, he was imploring it. But at least Harris thought it was good stuff (which didn’t do much to redeem him in my eyes).

So, I’m with @johnnydavis54 on this one: a lot of hollowness going on here.


Thanks for weighing in on this, Ed, you always lend a certain gravitas to my often gut level response! Metzinger gives me the creeps, ever since I saw a video of his, from Berkeley. The guy’s contempt for humanity continues to puzzle me. I think your comment sums him up.

The one thing I did like that Harris brought forward was a reference to William James and the resurgence of introspection, ( a lost art in the post modern world) and the value of blending first person and third person accounts.

But the 1st person accounts must be vigorous and sophisticated. Introspection conducted by hung over frat boys is not going to be of much use. We need people who are really good at introspection. This is an art form and alas most phenomenology is pretty sloppy.

As Frenkel, poignantly notes, we can no longer ignore that there is no separation between observer ,observation, observing. AI fanatics, who deny consciousness, ignore this. We are complex observing systems and we need a method for doing good phenomenology under these kinds of complex circumstances we are currently operating with. AI comes no where near to taking up this challenge.

And so the third person, objectifying and collectivizing that ensues, when couch potato introspection is the norm, will not stabilize us. We will continue to de-cohere, unless enough persons become more adept at connecting language with body- minds in motion. Then alternate ways of knowing can be activated. A radically different kind of technology could arise, if the people creating tech were competent, with multi-sensory communiques, with non kinesthetic touch, with a capacity to explore alternate maps. But their fragmented nervous systems and distorted world views, will no doubt continue to skew Mind-Nature coordinations.


Oh, I don’t know, John … I learned more from some of them than I did from the Harris-Metzinger interview. :wink:

I agree, though, that they have to geared up and made serious … but I have no idea how that gets done from a 3rd-person perspective. People that talk about themselves in the 3rd person give me the creeps. So what we need is practice and serious practice at that. If we take Frenkel seriously – and I think we should – the non-separability of observer/observing/observed forces us to reconsider and re-reflect on what is necessary to make this configuration most effective, in particular when we are dealing with ourselves.