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Good Night, Alan. I Mean, Good Evening

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Posted by Aurino Souza on November 14, 2003 14:33:10 UTC

Hi Alan,

I haven't read a good post from you ever since you started this physics-by-nursery-rhyme nonsense, but on this particular subject I think you excel! I was thrilled to read your last post.

I was also happy you chose "night" as an example. That particular word means a lot to me in this discussion.

Take the word "night".
Would you say you are not quite sure what night is?

Yes, I would say I'm not quite sure what night is, but let me explain first. When I started English lessons, many years ago, I learned about the word "evening", but I never used it because the official translation of "evening" into Portuguese is "noite", which happens to be the same word for "night". That is, Portuguese-speaking people have no concept of "evening". To me, "evening" did not even exist, it was not an issue I ever worried about. But now that I understand that such a thing as "evening" exists, which is not the same thing as "night", I'm confronted with questions I can't answer, such as "is 2:00AM evening or night?". In all sincerity, I don't know how to answer that question. I suppose you do, but I wouldn't be surprised if you are a bit confused as well.

"Would you say "night" is when the sun is hidden behind the Earth, and the sky is dark, etc.?

I would say "night" simply does not exist. You can't define the meaning of the word "night" so that it remains consistence with your experience of the world.

If you define "night" as "when it's dark", would a solar eclipse turn "day" into "night"? If you define "night" as "when the sun is behind the earth", is it OK to say Scandinavians go for three months without "night" in the summer? You can carry that exercise as far as you want; no matter how precise your definition is, there is always a way to show when it does not apply.

Does my choosing of the word "night" have nothing to do with night itself?

It may, or it may not. If you're blind you can't tell day from night, but you can still know what "day" and "night" mean. Think about why that is possible.

On the contrary: it is the continual colliding of the word "night" with the actual experience of night that shows they have everything to do with each other.

So explain to me how a blind person can know what "night" means. Even better, explain to me how a person who was born blind knows what "blind" means (they do, even if they have no idea what it feels not to be blind!)

Sure, I might have a word "round" as a child and apply it to wheels and eventually regard "wheel" as more precise; but it does not negate the "round" in wheel.

Not all wheels are round. There are many ways to change the shape of a wheel without changing the fact that it should still be called a wheel.

How sure am I about God? In so far as I have learned He is 3 in 1; is Love, is Existence, is Jesus Christ who is "The Way, the Truth, And The Life"; the parables and teachings I have heard; I am very sure I have found the link....

It's not that simple, Alan. I'm quite sure you know the things you claim to know; all I'm saying is that you can't communicate your knowledge if you don't abide by the rules of communication. The rules of communication are what allow you to figure out what "night" means, and they have very little to do with night itself. In other words, language has little to do with experience.

If you live 70 years, you will experience more than 25,000 nights, each different from the other. The word "night" is supposed to describe what all those thousands of experiences have in common, which on close examination turns out to be nothing! There is not a single thing that is common to all the 25,000 nights in the life of a 70 year-old man!

My use of the word "night" has everything to do with night itself; if I didn't have all those matches how would I know when to use the word?

My computer knows how to use the word "night". Think for a minute: how is that possible?

Is night nowhere in our sensory experience of the world?

Night is. "Night" isn't.

Sensory experience: I do not have just 5 senses. I have the ability (as does everyone) to sense Existence; I can experience things that may have no name, no English word.

All the things you experience have no name, in English or any other language.

See, the fact that you wrote the above is what gives me hope that you may understand what I'm trying to explain. I think you're very close to seeing it, all you have to do is drop some assumptions you haven't questioned yet. But you are very good at questioning assumptions, the problem is I'm having a hard time showing you what they are.

I am aware that people create their own matrix. We are not all prisoners of our own "truths": because there is leakage; our systems are full of holes. The doors are open, you just need to go through them and more doors open.

I said we are prisoner of our truths because we can't consider the possibility that what we think as false may actually be real. But we can always learn.

Dismantling the temporal matrix of numbers, of coercive associations, in one's life is very useful if you want to "have life, and have it to the full".

After all is said and done, I think I agree with you on that. I think people are prisoners of this matrix of numbers which they call "knowledge", which is mostly comprised of coercive associations. But you don't free them from their prison of knowledge by giving them more knowledge. It doesn't work that way.

Thomas Szasz exposes the dictatorship of casting moral disputes into a rhetoric of health.

Any problem can be solved if you ignore the facts. Denying the facts about mental health is the easiest way to make the problem seem to go away.

I don't know why you keep bringing this up. I suspect it may be because the way you talk upsets some people, who in turn tend to label you "mad". I don't think you're mad, but I think you might be "mad". In fact I think we all are "mad", except some people are better at hiding it than others.

Heating bills: I sympathise. However there exists a path where such things may lose their strength.

I know. It's called "dying and going to heaven", right? I'm waiting for my turn but I'm not in a hurry.



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