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That Ominous "something"

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Posted by Aurino Souza on April 21, 2003 14:31:03 UTC

Hi Dick,

First of all, it's not correct that I think your argument is unimportant. I may have used the word unimportant to refer to some side issue, but as a whole I believe the problem you are dealing with is both meaningful and important. If it weren't so how could I still be interested in talking to you? The only thing that frustrates me sometimes is that I believe I understand where you are coming from and where you are going to, but you seem incapable of recognizing or acknowledging my understanding. That creates a major roadblock for me. That is what I wanted to discuss with you, but I need some goodwill on your part. I don't know if you care, you are older than me and your concerns are entirely different; still, you might see it as an intellectual exercise, which is how I see it anyway.

If you go back to a point, in the forum, where I proposed to you that "communication is possible", I was trying to overcome that roadblock. Now, for the life of me, I can't understand why you could possibly oppose the idea that communication is possible, especially as I have made no assumption whatsoever as to the amount, content, correctness, or efficacy of the process. All I wanted you to agree with was this: the moment we try to establish communication, we have already made the assumption that communication is possible, otherwise why bother?

Is that an assumption? Yes. Is it justified? Yes, by the very fact that you are doing it, or thinking that you are doing, or having the illusion that you are doing. It makes no difference. Something is happening. What is that something and what is happening can be left open for as long as we wish; what we cannot leave open for inquiry is the fact that "something is happening", for if that is not part of our approach then the approach is doomed to fail as it excludes itself!

You may not see it that way, but what I said above is exactly the same thing you say! That is what frustrates me, I tell you the same thing you told me, only in different words, and you disagree with me! I can only assume you don't recognize your own words when spoken by somebody else, and that creates a serious problem. But I'm not yet convinced of that, although I must confess it remains a possibility, and I think you must also accept that as a possibility. But let's leave that aside for now and focus on the real issue.

What is the real issue? It is communication! Back in third grade, when you were frustrated with the fact that your teacher lied to you, you didn't discover any truth about the universe, reality, the human mind, or anything of the like. You discovered a truth about communication! When you look at reality, the world, most of it makes sense - the walls are in front of you, the ceiling is above, the floor is below, your hands are tied to your arms, and so on. It's not everyday that you find the walls are twisting like a vortex, the ceiling melting like ice-cream, the floor becoming transparent revelaing an underworld of demons, your hands tied to your ankles. The point is, unless you're crazy or under the influence of psychotic drugs, reality makes perfect sense.

Now ask people to describe reality for you and it will all stop making sense. There's Alan and his Existence=Letting be=Love, there's Alex and his symmetries, there's Harv and his pompous philosophical jargon, and of course there's you and your paper. Does it all make sense? No way! As far as I can tell most, if not all of it, is meaningless garbage! Unless one believes each person lives in a separate universe, the fact that we can't agree on a single, coherent description of reality means we are all fools!

Is there a way out of our foolishness? As a matter of logical fact, there must be! However, since the way out of the foolishness requires us to communicate, and since communication is the very source of the foolishness, we are caught up in a vicious circle which we can only break out of by...

Well, if I finished my sentence above, it would sound foolish.

This morning I woke up to the news on the radio. They said someone from the US government was claiming that the Iraqis have destroyed and buried up all their weapons of mass destruction just before the coalition armies invaded the country; that would explain why they couldn't find any!

That is being right by being wrong! It's close to what my "something" is - the ability to come up with phrases, explanations, theories, logical proofs, that cannot be refuted by any method whatsoever, regardless of the fact that they are blatantly false. To my disappointment, that kind of foolishness pervades every single aspect of human thought, including that most sacred of all, science. It's a really sad state of affairs.

As to you, Dick, I'm still confused. Very often what you say is very close to what I'm saying above, or so I understand it. But now and then you make some assertions that sound even more foolish than the foolishness that already surrounds us. Let me give you an example.

I recently asked you why you claim that causality is an illusion. Well, you said your paper proves it (I might add that so does Quantum Mechanics, but that is a side issue), but it was curious to observe your explanation as to why we believe in an illusion called causality. In essence, if I understood you correctly, you said we need to believe in causality in order to survive. That seems to make sense, except for one simple logical fact: if causality does not exist in reality, why do we have to believe it in order to survive?

Think about that carefully. If I believe eating styrofoam is good for my survival, I will perish because in reality styrofoam is not good for my survival. Why is it different with causality? If I believe I need to control whatever causes my survival in order to survive, and that belief has no basis in reality, how can you explain the fact that my belief sustains me alive? How is that situation different from eating choosing to eat vegetables instead of styrofoam?

To put it another way, if causality is an illusion then you can jump from the 20th floor and hit the ground unharmed, or not hit the ground at all. So how do you explain the fact that you don't have the courage to jump?

Now think about this too: forget causality, it's not the point. The point is communication. If something you say is not consistent with everything else you say, and especially if it's not consistent with what you do, then it's very hard to believe you. It's easier to think you are being foolish.

Let's say you have really solved some important, meaningful problem. Can you understand that communication of the solution is as important as the solution itself? An uncommunicable solution is no solution at all, unless you are doing it for your personal amusement.

There's another important issue here. We are all working at solving problems. Alan, Alex, Harv, Bruce, your third grade teacher, they are all busy solving problems. The fact that they are not successful at communicating their solutions means exactly the same as the fact that you are not successful at communicating your solution. I believe you could understand quite a lot about other people if you meditated on that simple logical fact. And other people are the only aspects of reality that don't make much sense. That, and ceilings that melt like ice-cream.

Welcome back to the forum. If you and a few others stay, I might stay as well. Maybe we can have some of the great debates of days past.



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