Tuesday, November 2, 2021


(Continued from How Could We Be So Blind?)

When you questioned me last time on my participation in social media, stock market speculation, populist political party membership, adherence to neoliberal economic theory and obedience to its practice, enthusiastic compliance with lockdowns and business closures, you left out a certain other, ritual based crowd behavior, the most prominent of them all.
- Which one is that?
- Evolution, survival of the fittest by means of chance mutation. Were you afraid of being thought a crackpot?
- Guilty.
- Chance in Darwinian evolution being equivilent to the self-forgetting at the heart of crowd behaviors, the self-renewal made possible by the dying of the old in the passion of following the crowd, whether that is guided by social media, stock market speculation, populist political party membership or capitalist war-like negotiations between buyer and seller.
- I've heard that fully thirty percent of biologists privately express doubts about Darwin's theory.*
- They doubt his specification of chance as the mechanism of mutation.
- Yes.
- Hard to believe. And what about chance mutation and doubting Darwin do you want to say? 
- Movement for life in general is towards complexity; movement for the individual is towards knowledge. A clear difference exists between the kind of gap that is of self forgetting, created by editing out experience through the mechanism of ritual, and the gap of not knowing what gives direction to evolution, not knowing what force is, what energy is, what gravity is, what passage of time is. In fact, we don't know what movement is at all, can't break it down into parts except by series of still pictures, leaving movement between those pictures still undefined.
- The self's change is obscure in the crowd behaviors, but in the case of scientific description, it is the world's movement, towards complexity or towards being known, that is the difficulty.
- Yes. 
- I know all this from past conversations but wanted to go over it again.
- Now we've done that.
- Sorry for boring you. But I think you'll like this, a doctrine, as far as I can make out, of illusory or at least problematic movement, from a thousand or more years ago, from the other side of the world, found in an academic paper: There is That: The Association of Space and Cause in Niyati Kañcuka, Joel H. Posner: 
Cause-and-effect is in KŚ an exclusively māyic operation. As such it is qualitatively different from, subordinate to, and entirely contingent on the underlying creative or causative mechanism that drives the unfoldment of reality through all its stages, spawns the emergence of governing principles at every stage, and ultimately enables within any given stage each and every manifestation. That “primary” or “present” causality, if you will, is a spontaneous act that transpires timelessly without condition or limitationas willed and enacted by a first cause, namely supreme consciousness, which is not itself an effect. The notion of a supreme agent that is at once active, in extroversion (unmeṣa), as well as quiescent, in introversion (nimeṣa),is a stunningly advanced formulation, and a radical departure from other schools, including perhaps most notably Advaita Vedānta as propounded by Śaṅkarācārya. KŚ breaks sharply from, among other things, a conventional doctrinaire understanding of causality. 
 KS is Kashmir Saivism.** Also from the article:
In the Trika ideology of Kashmir Śaivism (KŚ), māyā is the sixth in the hierarchy of thirtysix tattvas, or ontological (and in this formulation equally epistemological) principles. It is the stage in the creative descent at which consciousness assumes the existential mantle that eclipses its essential unity and sovereignty, and governs everyday experience. That mantle is comprised of five husks (kañcuka-s), each of which imposes a specific limitation with respect to the following: 1) efficacy (kalā); 2) knowledge (vidyā); 3) inclination (rāga); 4) time (kāla); 5) space and cause (niyati). Thus are the powers of universal consciousness by its own doing fragmented and diminished in the individual personal experient, alienated in embodiment from the boundlessness of supreme Self. 
Were you aware such writings existed?
- Yes.
- Oh. Anyway, this is the idea I have: that should science come around and correct itself, self consciously sort out theories that have their origin in crowd behavior and the forgetting of self, the world might get itself educated and strengthened against this fatality of crowds. What do you think?
- People who won't listen to philosophy talking mysteries will listen to science. Could be. Do you know how music works?
- Know why we like music?
- Yes.
- The vibrations please us.
- That's all?
- Music awakens in us moods, experiences, emotions.
- And not both together, rhythm and melody? Doesn't music have exactly the same gap, or rather gaps, we've been talking about?
- How?
- Sound, then silence, then sound. The movement of change occurs in the silences.
- Ruling out, I guess, sirens, crying babies, screaming electronic music.
- Some rhythms are produced with the intention to put listeners into a trance-like loss of self awareness. But other rhythms, becoming the foundation to melody, express our repeated passage through the world of undefinable movement back to the stillness and immobility of knowledge; while melody offers in detail one particular story of movement on its way to rest.
- Silence bears the mystery of movement.
- Yes. Silence has its laws relating where we can expect what to be at any one moment; the story of the discovery of those laws is a sort of melody played to the rhythm of scientific progress.
- The music of science, with its progressing rhythm of melodies, stories of experiment and hypothesis, you think may soothe the crowd-loving beast in us?
- It's an idea.

Further Reading:
Machines & Consciousness
* A claim made by Michael Behe.
** Śiva (Skt., ‘auspicious’). Major deity in Hinduism, the third in the Hindu trinity (trimūrti), along with Brahmā and Viṣṇu. In the Vedas, Siva appears as an epithet of Rudra, not as separate manifestation of divine power. The joint form, Rudra-Śiva appears in the gṛhya (household) rites, which suggests that there was a gradual process of assimilation, and that Śiva has roots and origins in the pre-Vedic period. By the 2nd cent. BCE, Rudra was waning in significance, and Śiva began to obtain a powerful separate identity. In Rāmāyaṇa, he is a mighty and personal god, and in Mahābhārata he is at times the equal of Viṣṇu, perhaps even the creator of Viṣṇu and Brahmā, worshipped by other gods. He became associated with generation and destruction, especially in conjunction with Śakti, and is therefore worshipped through the power of the liṅga. The Mahādeva image in the Elephanta caves already depicts Śiva in the threefold guise of creator, destroyer, and preserver: in this and other such images, the two faces on either side represent (apparent) opposites—male and female (ardhanārī); terrifying destroyer (bhairava) and active giver of repose; mahāyogi and gṛhasta—while the third, serene and peaceful, reconciles the two, the Supreme as the One who transcends all contradictions. The three horizontal marks which Śaivites put on their foreheads represent the triple aspect of Śiva. As a personal god (iṣta-deva), he is worshipped in many forms of manifestation, important examples being Nāṭarāja (lord of the dance) and Dakṣiṇāmūrti, spiritual teacher. His mantra is ‘sivo ʾham’. Śiva is particularly associated with the river Gaṅgā (Ganges) which flows through his hair and with Mount Kailāsa in the Himālayas.(Encyclopedia.com)