Thursday, September 23, 2010

Were these fishes after all?

22.9.2010 Were these fishes after all? on my way to the train station, I saw a big, lively aquarium on a wall nearby. It took me a few seconds to discover that it wasn't an aquarium at all, but a big plasma screen featuring a simulation of the aquarium. The illusion of reality was all the more poignant because of the distance that did not allow for stereo disparity. These "fishes" were mere pixels on a screen. There was no fish behind the window. However, the dynamic patterns of light indicated fishes - somehow, the lights were fishes. There was something fisherly going on. One could say that "fishiness" was captured in the rules that commanded the patterns of light. 
But then, in which manner this is different form real fishes in a real aquarium? If I see a real aquarium, I don't directly "connect" with the fishes (whatever this means): I only see them, I only see the way their presence modify... patterns of light that reach my eyes.  
What's more: there is no way to even connect with the "fishiness" in any direct way, for perception is always mediated. So, again: were these fishes after all? is the fish really defined as the mass of atoms that compose a fish? not quite: it's the structural behavior of that mass, and how it affects the surrounding waves of light, sound and water. And we must not forget that these patterns need to be recognized by someone in order to reveal its meaning - fish. That means that the fish is also in my mind, in my capacity to perceive a pattern of fishiness. In a word: the simulated aquarium is an aquarium, and it contains real fishes made of pixels. 

8.9.2010 I was sitting in my sofa, and I felt asleep for about ten minutes. I had a very short dream, or something that felt like a dream - a stream of thoughts in an hypnagogic state. I dreamed, so to speak, that I was talking with a man that I knew somehow was the incarnation of Buddha. The subject of our conversation was the importance of each of our human acts: from the most insignificant to the most important en apparance. Tout est important dans son propre contexte, disait-il. Je regardais ses bras maigres et je voyais son sang couler dans un reseau de veines rouges. Tout est essentiel considere dans son propre microcosme, chaque chose est attrape dans un reseau inextricable de significations qui sont generees mais qui en meme temps sont a l'origine de cette chose. Nous sommes ses choses insignifiantes mais nous creons des mondes a chanque instant dans lequels il y a une but, un commencement, une fin. Choisir une robe, ouvrir une porte, trouves les mots convenables, eviter le soleil, s'incliner devant quelqu'un, contempler un coucher de soleil. Ce sont tous des mondes avec un commencement, une fin, et un but plus ou moins clair, un aboutissement qui est l'equivalent du bouton qui s'ouvre pour donner lieu a une fleur complete. Tout n'est peut etre qu'illusion disait-il, mais il n'y a que ca, et le jeu consiste justement a accepter les regles de ce jeu pour mieux le jouer sans souffrir ni etre oppresse par tous les liens qui peuvent a n'importe quel instant se refermer sur nous, se transformer en chaines et en questions vertigineuses. Meme dans ce reve, me dit-il, tu m'ecoutes mais tu est celui qui me cree, et tu essayes de me rendre parfait car c'est le but du reve. You are therefore a part of myself, a part of Buddha, and your self disintegrates in an effort to reach for something that is beyond itself. Even in a dream that you may regard as a mere dream as you wake up. I woke up - or should I say, I opened my eyes completely to the neon lights that shone from the kitchen. I then realized that I had lived a life in ten minutes, that I have been playing the game of life all along, even in a dream. Microcosmos within microcosmos.
11.8.2010 From wikipedia (related to my thinking about empathy and how it make us good, well at the same time doing good to the world):

Virtue theory is not actually in conflict with deontology or teleology: those two viewpoints deal with which actions a person should take in any given scenario, whereas virtue theorists simply argue that developing morally desirable virtues for their own sake will help aid moral actions when such decisions need to be made.

Nick Gier in Buddhist Ethics as Virtue Ethics compares Buddha's ethical teachings to Aristotle's: "Like Greek virtue ethics, Buddhist ethics is also humanistic and thoroughly personalist."[4] Damien Keown devotes a great deal of his work to debunking claims that Buddhism is Utilitarian in nature. His work then goes on to examine the structure of Buddhist Ethics, focusing specifically on morality (Pali: siila). His conclusion is that Buddhist Ethics most closely resembles the ancient Greek virtue ethics found in Aristotle.

Terrible future of post-humans: I just read today that the OMS is happy that we are now treating 5 million people with AIDS. Indeed, these are great news... but the AIDS is not really cured, in fact these drugs make people able to survive the disease, able to live with it; but this means, from the perspective of the virus, that its host does not die, and so that it gains time and opportunities to spread. So, let's indulge ourselves on a dystopian dream, an epoch when all humanity will live with AIDS, but well and going - as long as you have your daily cocktail of complex drugs... Basic needs existed beforehand (water, food, etc), so this medication would be just a new "essential" nutriment after all. That would be okay perhaps, until we remember that these drugs are not found in nature, nor can them be prepared on your kitchen. We will depend on bio-technologies in a manner that will make us very fragile. It is quite different to have an electricity shortage (and miss your favorite TV program) than to have shortage on say, oxygen...
A conversation is not just the act of transmitting information between two persons; it's a creative process, where new information is created. I would say that the percentage of "transmitted" information versus freshly created information is 1/10 or less. In fact, a conversation is more like an act of improvisation. When we start talking, we rarely know exactly where are we going. Of course, we may have a direction, some really important information to convey that acts as a "beacon" for us. But then, all the rest is pure rambling, digressing, random walk in the phase space of thinking.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Framerate of consciousness and motion of shades

About our "internal clock" or the "framerate" of consciousness: the characteristic speed may be the result of limitations and constraints of biochemical reactions in the brain, but it may also be the product of evolution.

Take for instance the motion of the shade cast by a tree under the sun: its motion is barely noticeable, it seems to be just under the threshold of perception, but not very much lower. Why? Perhaps it is no coincidence, there may be an evolutionary reason: if we saw it moving it would interfere with our ability to detect moving creatures under the tree!

So, perhaps the speed of rotation of the Earth is somehow responsible for the setting of a lower bond of our perception of flow of time (our "deltat"). Other things may also be factored to, such as the grow of plants.