Truth and Humanity - Dr Susan Blackmore

Some partial backups of posts from the past (Feb, 2004)

Postby David Quinn » Tue May 08, 2007 6:52 pm

ChochemV2,

DQ: That is why I talked on the show about the role of attachments in triggering emotions. If a person were to have no attachments at all, not even to his own happiness or his own life, then the trigger for emotion disappears.

CH: That's where I think the disconnect was. It seemed like she was assuming you claimed you had no emotions and that's why she kept calling it inhuman.

My impression was that she was referring to my description of the ideal of complete non-attachment. It was the ideal that she was calling inhuman.

Calling a spiritual ideal "inhuman" is a bit like calling certain behaviours "un-American" or "un-Australian". It's a way of justifying the clinging to one's present attachments.


When, as I see it, the point was you have reached a point where the things which would evoke a certain emotion in most people don't matter to you so they aren't the same trigger.

It's not that you are emotionless just that you have moved past certain stimuli.

I'm not currently emotionless, but it is certainly my goal to become so. To reach the stage where no perception of any kind can disturb my clarity of mind and conscious immersion in nirvana.


I compare it to the kid who is teased in school. Parents always say something like "Teasing just means that person has low self esteem so you should feel sorry for them, not get angry". It's my experience that few people, even the parents saying the words, ever actually get to a point where teasing doesn't phase them and few even raise their tolerance threshold.

That's right. One would have to completely abandon all attachment to one's reputation and sense of security before one could be completely unphased by teasing.

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Postby Diebert van Rhijn » Tue May 08, 2007 10:11 pm

David Quinn wrote:ChochemV2,

DQ: That is why I talked on the show about the role of attachments in triggering emotions. If a person were to have no attachments at all, not even to his own happiness or his own life, then the trigger for emotion disappears.

CH: That's where I think the disconnect was. It seemed like she was assuming you claimed you had no emotions and that's why she kept calling it inhuman.

My impression was that she was referring to my description of the ideal of complete non-attachment. It was the ideal that she was calling inhuman.


In my view the confusion in such discussions is the lack of a clear view on what emotion is. By lumping in a lot of human behavior it becomes almost a crime to be anti-emotion.

The following definition seems rather solid:

R.A. Masters wrote:As I define them, affect is an innately structured, non-cognitive evaluative sensation that may or may not register in consciousness; feeling is affect made conscious, possessing an evaluative capacity that is not only physiologically based, but that is often also psychologically (and sometimes relationally) oriented; and emotion is psychosocially constructed, dramatized feeling. (source)


For example Damasio uses slightly different definitions and arrives at three different categories: background emotions (state of being), primary emotions (surprise, anger, happiness) and social emotions (shame, pride, envy). He defines feeling as the idea of the body being in a certain way.

As you can see there's quite a difference in how feelings, affects and emotions are regarded by various researchers. This is only convenient perhaps: it leaves the boundaries murky and fear of generalization disables us to take a stand how they would be necessary to prosper as human being. How attached we may have become to certain drama.

NB: The interview with Susan was the best yet by far, she has such a sharp mind! David's voice sounds a bit disembodied though compared to the others. Perhaps a bit closer to the mike or improving your bandwidth might help? Dan has a great radio voice. Like in the other discussions it seems hard for the QRS to interrupt a guest when he's on a roll. It would be an improvement if at least the host could take a bit more control while remaining the neutral chairman position.

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Postby Kelly Jones » Tue May 08, 2007 10:28 pm

I cannot help myself:

I am unperturbed, concerted, undaunted, and unfazed. I am not unphased, unscheduled, unordered, and unsynchronised.

I realise this is pedantic, but all this "she or he is not phased in the slightest" is starting to faze me.
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Postby David Quinn » Wed May 09, 2007 9:59 am

Diebert,

DQ: That is why I talked on the show about the role of attachments in triggering emotions. If a person were to have no attachments at all, not even to his own happiness or his own life, then the trigger for emotion disappears.

CH: That's where I think the disconnect was. It seemed like she was assuming you claimed you had no emotions and that's why she kept calling it inhuman.

DQ: My impression was that she was referring to my description of the ideal of complete non-attachment. It was the ideal that she was calling inhuman.

DvR: In my view the confusion in such discussions is the lack of a clear view on what emotion is. By lumping in a lot of human
behavior it becomes almost a crime to be anti-emotion.

I don't know, Diebert. I think everyone knows what emotions are. Or at least they are aware of the standard emotions - fear, anger, happiness, jealousy, etc. As far as these types of discussions are concerned, such as the one on the show, this conception of the emotions is sufficient. Susan Blackmore definitely understood that I was referring to the standard emotions in my use of the word "emotion".

It is only when more advanced practitioners of truth discuss the subject that a more precise definition of emotion is needed. For example, they would have to narrow the conception of emotion down to feelings of agitation and dullness which disturb one's clarity of mind and cause the loss of one's infinite perspective. But that doesn't really mean anything to the average person.


The following definition seems rather solid:

R.A. Masters wrote:
As I define them, affect is an innately structured, non-cognitive evaluative sensation that may or may not register in consciousness; feeling is affect made conscious, possessing an evaluative capacity that is not only physiologically based, but that is often also psychologically (and sometimes relationally) oriented; and emotion is psychosocially constructed, dramatized feeling. (source)

"Non-rational reactions to perceived phenomena which cause one to fall into delusion" does me.


NB: The interview with Susan was the best yet by far, she has such a sharp mind! David's voice sounds a bit disembodied though compared to the others. Perhaps a bit closer to the mike or improving your bandwidth might help?

How do I improve my bandwidth?


Dan has a great radio voice. Like in the other discussions it seems hard for the QRS to interrupt a guest when he's on a roll. It would be an improvement if at least the host could take a bit more control while remaining the neutral chairman position.

It's not that easy when you cannot see these people and there is a slight delay in the signal between us. The only way to interrupt them would be to talk over the top of them until they stopped talking, which is something that doesn't sit well with me.

Perhaps the best solution would be to stipulate to the guest before the show that they keep their answers short. Now that we have a few shows behind us, featuring some eminent guests, we can probably muster up the authority needed to dictate terms like that without offending them.

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Postby Dan Rowden » Wed May 09, 2007 10:05 am

Diebert van Rhijn wrote:The interview with Susan was the best yet by far, she has such a sharp mind!


Yes indeed; it stops short in certain areas, but that's to be expected.

David's voice sounds a bit disembodied though compared to the others. Perhaps a bit closer to the mike or improving your bandwidth might help?


Getting a seamless audio result may well prove impossible I think. Each show presents its own problems and variations.

Like in the other discussions it seems hard for the QRS to interrupt a guest when he's on a roll. It would be an improvement if at least the host could take a bit more control while remaining the neutral chairman position.


That's not as easy as it sounds. Plus if the person is interesting I don't think it matters too much if they waft on a bit. Interrupting takes a lot of skill and I think done awkwardly would prove more of a detriment to the shows than letting the guests waft a little. Though, in the show we just did with Dr V.V Raman, I made sure I got my 2 cents in!
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Postby Kelly Jones » Wed May 09, 2007 7:05 pm

I think Dan and David both realise how fairly intelligent women can pick up the slightest hint in what people say, and how they say it, and adapt their statements to suit the listener, and not actually have much understanding of what they are saying. So the following comments may be unnecessary, regarding the gaping holes in Sue's views - but perhaps you should explain why you didn't challenge them.

When Sue says that "there is a lot more to life than rationality", neither of you followed that up.

Sue stated she had been driven all along by the "mystery of consciousness", and that she "spent all her time sitting at home thinking about consciousness" but it was not followed up by asking her whether she has solved it, or whether to her, it remains a mystery. This line of questioning would have led to finding out whether she believed that science was the method used to validate insights gained through "brain disturbances" or not. It would also have led to finding out what she has in other debates described as the illusoriness of consciousness. Namely, she would have been pinned down on what she thinks is absolutely true, and why.

Another opportunity to do this was when Sue emphasised the importance of luring academic scientific exploration into using first person experiences in regards to consciousness.

And yet another, when she equated anti-science (anything not scientific) with incomprehension and rubbish.

Also, what about challenging her to find out whether she really thought all experiences were ultimately brain changes?

Early up, in response to Sue's question, David defined wisdom as being aware of the nature of Reality. But did not then ask Sue how she defined wisdom, or what she thought the nature of Ultimate Reality was. David explicitly stated she had already had some insight into it. Why? As she then said her out of body experience was harder to describe now than thirty years ago, she gave quite a sizeable hint. And why not follow up her bait and ask her her purpose ("it is a brave philosopher who would describe his purpose").

With all the talk about valid insights into the nature of Reality, why not actually ask, about what she meant by "noumenous experiences" and "there is no separate me from the Universe" and "the interconnectedness of all things"? I would have needled into this, to find out how she'd come to these conclusions.

Dan also immediately agreed with Sue's meme idea, without asking her if she thought memes existed beyond human consciousness, namely inherently. To me, it seemed that she was very eager to hold onto these permanent recopying entities, in the same way that she was earlier eager to leap to the conclusion that a soul transmigrates.


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Postby Kevin Solway » Wed May 09, 2007 7:35 pm

Kelly Jones wrote:When Sue says that "there is a lot more to life than rationality", neither of you followed that up.


She soon revealed what she meant meant by "a lot more to life than rationality" - namely irrationality and the emotions.


Sue stated she had been driven all along by the "mystery of consciousness", and that she "spent all her time sitting at home thinking about consciousness" but it was not followed up by asking her whether she has solved it, or whether to her, it remains a mystery.


I think she said that she didn't even know what consciousness was. So she certainly hasn't solved it.


Also, what about challenging her to find out whether she really thought all experiences were ultimately brain changes?


She seems to be a "physicalist", in which case I would expect her to think that all experiences were events in the brain.


Early up, in response to Sue's question, David defined wisdom as being aware of the nature of Reality. But did not then ask Sue how she defined wisdom, or what she thought the nature of Ultimate Reality was.


I got the strong impression from what she said that she only has a very vague idea of what wisdom is, or what the nature of Ultimate Reality is. As she noted, she's "floundering".


David explicitly stated she had already had some insight into it. Why?


Probably because she has thought a little about cause and effect, and she has realized that all things are are like we are, continuing only if replicated.


As she then said her out of body experience was harder to describe now than thirty years ago, she gave quite a sizeable hint. And why not follow up her bait and ask her her purpose ("it is a brave philosopher who would describe his purpose").


I think it's clear that her purpose is to clarify her thought a bit, as well as to enjoy human love and family and emotions, etc.

With all the talk about valid insights into the nature of Reality, why not actually ask, about what she meant by "noumenous experiences" and "there is no separate me from the Universe" and "the interconnectedness of all things"? I would have needled into this, to find out how she'd come to these conclusions.


I believe she's agreed to do another show. So that could be delved into a bit more next time.


Dan also immediately agreed with Sue's meme idea, without asking her if she thought memes existed beyond human consciousness, namely inherently. To me, it seemed that she was very eager to hold onto these permanent recopying entities, in the same way that she was earlier eager to leap to the conclusion that a soul transmigrates.


I didn't get that impression. I think her thinking allows them to morph and change into different things.
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Postby David Quinn » Wed May 09, 2007 7:57 pm

There are thousands of ways that a conversation can be directed, thousands of ways that each point can be responded to. Dan and I chose one way. Kelly wanted another way. Such is life.


Kelly: David explicitly stated she had already had some insight into it. Why?

Kevin: Probably because she has thought a little about cause and effect, and she has realized that all things are are like we are, continuing only if replicated.

That, and also her mystical insight into the oneness of reality and the illusion of self.


Kelly: With all the talk about valid insights into the nature of Reality, why not actually ask, about what she meant by "noumenous experiences" and "there is no separate me from the Universe" and "the interconnectedness of all things"? I would have needled into this, to find out how she'd come to these conclusions.

Kevin: I believe she's agreed to do another show. So that could be delved into a bit more next time.

She already described these things when she talked about her mystical experience on the show - e.g. her sense of self expanding to embrace the entire universe and then dissolving. But yes, there are plenty of things that could be pursued further in another show.

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Postby Kelly Jones » Wed May 09, 2007 8:30 pm

David Quinn wrote:There are thousands of ways that a conversation can be directed, thousands of ways that each point can be responded to. Dan and I chose one way. Kelly wanted another way. Such is life.


Yes. Are you're saying that it was better not to challenge Sue, since after all your experience of seeing how the ego manifests, you see these flaws and when it is best to challenge them? And then was not the time? That you wish to appear polite, and to allow people to present their views fully without any interruption, to attract other guests, and especially the females?

I suppose, all those unchallenged views can be discussed on the Genius Forum. It just seems such a wierd shock to switch into needling mode on the Forum. Like lulling your prey into a false sense of security, and then leap upon the ideas in a bloodythirsty savage battle, tearing them to shreds. Or were the earlier battles just impatience?



Kelly: David explicitly stated she had already had some insight into it. Why?

David: ...her mystical insight into the oneness of reality and the illusion of self.


Ok, I admit, some insight, but it didn't go very far, did it? She didn't get into the reasoning side to deconstruct it. Reality is ultimately not oneness, nor are all things ultimately interconnected.


Kelly: With all the talk about valid insights into the nature of Reality, why not actually ask, about what she meant by "noumenous experiences" and "there is no separate me from the Universe" and "the interconnectedness of all things"? I would have needled into this, to find out how she'd come to these conclusions.

David: She already described these things when she talked about her mystical experience on the show - e.g. her sense of self expanding to embrace the entire universe and then dissolving. But yes, there are plenty of things that could be pursued further in another show.


I meant, find out meaning, and the reasoning behind it, rather than accept the words.

Wouldn't it be great to find a fearless person with whom you could *start* with the most profound ideas, and never move to anything more shallow, whose concentration was unwavering, who was never attracted to anything at all. I wonder how much I could stand to listen to them!

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Postby David Quinn » Wed May 09, 2007 10:07 pm

Kelly,

DQ: There are thousands of ways that a conversation can be directed, thousands of ways that each point can be responded to. Dan and I chose one way. Kelly wanted another way. Such is life.

Kelly: Yes. Are you're saying that it was better not to challenge Sue, since after all your experience of seeing how the ego manifests, you see these flaws and when it is best to challenge them? And then was not the time? That you wish to appear polite, and to allow people to present their views fully without any interruption, to attract other guests, and especially the females?

Sue was challenged, politely and civilly, in the area of emotional attachments.

Keep in mind that Susan Blackmore doesn't claim to be an expert in wisdom, so there isn't much point in challenging or attacking her in that area. But she does claim to have expertise in understanding that the self is an illusion, and so Dan and I conducted the show on that basis - e.g. exploring some of the implications of there being no self. That's about all you can do in this situation without drifting too far away from where she is at. She is intelligent and insightful, but not very philosophical.


Kelly: David explicitly stated she had already had some insight into it. Why?

David: ...her mystical insight into the oneness of reality and the illusion of self.

Kelly: Ok, I admit, some insight, but it didn't go very far, did it? She didn't get into the reasoning side to deconstruct it.

I didn't prompt her in that direction because I could see that her insight was well-grounded and valid. I was more interested in exploring the consequences of the insight.


Reality is ultimately not oneness, nor are all things ultimately interconnected.

That would have been too deep for that particular show. As such, it would have been inappropriate to go down that route.

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Postby Kelly Jones » Wed May 09, 2007 10:36 pm

I see. If you look for the obvious symptoms of delusion (namely: emotions, meaning, attachment), then these will indicate the nature of the insight about the Totality and where it's likely errors are to be found.

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Postby Dan Rowden » Wed May 09, 2007 10:43 pm

Your expectations are a bit silly, Kelly. It's an hour long show (roughly). You get what you can from it. Most of the issues you wanted raised and the depth at which you wanted them addressed takes weeks or months or even years on a forum like this - and you wanted us to do that in 60 minutes?
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Postby Kelly Jones » Wed May 09, 2007 10:56 pm

Kevin Solway wrote:Kelly: Dan also immediately agreed with Sue's meme idea, without asking her if she thought memes existed beyond human consciousness, namely inherently. To me, it seemed that she was very eager to hold onto these permanent recopying entities, in the same way that she was earlier eager to leap to the conclusion that a soul transmigrates.

Kevin: I didn't get that impression. I think her thinking allows them to morph and change into different things.


No, she said, they can form into new mixtures. She didn't agree with David that someone can create entirely new ideas. I.e. the same things are just being rearranged, like the same alphabet letters into new words, but nothing original ever really arises. Meaning, that consciousness is streaming like a kind of seance medium, rather than deliberately constructing ideas and coming up with unprecedented things.

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Postby Kelly Jones » Wed May 09, 2007 11:01 pm

OK, Dan, I admit I am impatient sometimes. However, someone said it was a good show, so they set it up as being high quality.

Or what else does "good" mean?
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Postby Dan Rowden » Wed May 09, 2007 11:16 pm

Kelly Jones wrote:
Kevin Solway wrote:Kelly: Dan also immediately agreed with Sue's meme idea, without asking her if she thought memes existed beyond human consciousness, namely inherently. To me, it seemed that she was very eager to hold onto these permanent recopying entities, in the same way that she was earlier eager to leap to the conclusion that a soul transmigrates.

Kevin: I didn't get that impression. I think her thinking allows them to morph and change into different things.


No, she said, they can form into new mixtures. She didn't agree with David that someone can create entirely new ideas. I.e. the same things are just being rearranged, like the same alphabet letters into new words, but nothing original ever really arises. Meaning, that consciousness is streaming like a kind of seance medium, rather than deliberately constructing ideas and coming up with unprecedented things.


When memetics "denies" creativity it is really only denying a way of thinking about it - namely, that things arise quasi-magically from some aspect of consciousness that just randomly and spontaneously produces stuff. Memetics is really a deterministic model of things, set within a framework of evolutionary theory as a sub-set of the broader notion of Natural Selection. I don't think it's any different to me saying that my wisdom is not my doing, but Nature's.
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Postby Kelly Jones » Wed May 09, 2007 11:36 pm

Then memetics = causes.

Why use another word?

It seems to me that Sue is not using your definition, Dan, because if she did, she'd have no problem with the concept of the unifying self that coordinates plans of behaviour (meaning, just causes). It's my belief that Sue uses memes to mean causes with will, or something like that. As a result, she'd not be able to conceive of a unified conscious agent, but rather all these little "co-operative" agents of force. Which is silly, since they're all single unities as well.

No wonder she can't form a coherent picture of consciousness, if she doesn't like having a single absolute self. Wierd. I don't even know what she thinks consciousness is.

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Postby Dan Rowden » Thu May 10, 2007 12:02 am

Kelly Jones wrote:Then memetics = causes.

Why use another word?


New words help to sell books. And then I suppose in some sense memetics represents a new paradigm in evolutionary theory (within the framework of Natural Selection) so for scientific purposes a new term might have been needed. It doesn't make sense for example for meteorologists to refer to everything simply as "causes". Nomenclature is necessary for science to function.

It seems to me that Sue is not using your definition, Dan, because if she did, she'd have no problem with the concept of the unifying self that coordinates plans of behaviour (meaning, just causes).


Well, I'm not sure she does. I think to her the self is just a collection of memes, producing certain effects according to which memes are the most successful (or unsuccessful as the case may be)..

It's my belief that Sue uses memes to mean causes with will, or something like that.


I don't think "will" is the right word. It's just a matter of success according to the forces of natural selection. A meme's success is as "blind" as anything else.

As a result, she'd not be able to conceive of a unified conscious agent, but rather all these little "co-operative" agents of force. Which is silly, since they're all single unities as well.


I don't think that's how memetics conceives of the functionality of memes. Have you read Dawkin's "Selfish Gene"?

No wonder she can't form a coherent picture of consciousness, if she doesn't like having a single absolute self. Weird. I don't even know what she thinks consciousness is.


I think she made it abundantly clear she doesn't know. I think in some sense she probably feels it's an illusion generated by the functioning of those memes, but she also doesn't think consciousness as an emergent property is an adequate model. Basically she doesn't know. At least she's thinking about it. I'll give her some points for that....
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Postby Elizabeth Isabelle » Thu May 10, 2007 12:16 am

Dan Rowden wrote:
Kelly Jones wrote:Then memetics = causes.

Why use another word?


New words help to sell books. And then I suppose in some sense memetics represents a new paradigm in evolutionary theory (within the framework of Natural Selection) so for scientific purposes a new term might have been needed. It doesn't make sense for example for meteorologists to refer to everything simply as "causes". Nomenclature is necessary for science to function.


It isn't a really new word anymore; although the origin seems to be from 1976, and was started by Dawkin. Meme means
a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.


It does describe what she was talking about in that replication does not just occur in biological life forms, and the analogous term does convey the philosophical paradigm shift to think of culture as a life form.
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Postby Kelly Jones » Thu May 10, 2007 12:28 am

Dan Rowden wrote:Kelly: It seems to me that Sue is not using your definition, Dan, because if she did, she'd have no problem with the concept of the unifying self that coordinates plans of behaviour (meaning, just causes).

Dan: Well, I'm not sure she does. I think to her the self is just a collection of memes, producing certain effects according to which memes are the most successful (or unsuccessful as the case may be)..


No, she expressed her difficulty with the concept of a unified self coordinating itself coherently, in two different ways. First, by saying that she was aiming to find out how to live as a multiplicity, and secondly, by exclaiming that she couldn't decide which self's values were most important (my paraphrase). Though you laughed at this, as if she was joking, I think she was deadly serious. She doesn't see that her "I" has practical purposes only.



Kelly: It's my belief that Sue uses memes to mean causes with will, or something like that.

Dan: I don't think "will" is the right word. It's just a matter of success according to the forces of natural selection. A meme's success is as "blind" as anything else.


That's the way you see it. But she expressed it such that these memes are running around the place trying to be rebirthed everywhere. She literally used this kind of personification.



Kelly: As a result, she'd not be able to conceive of a unified conscious agent, but rather all these little "co-operative" agents of force. Which is silly, since they're all single unities as well.

Dan: I don't think that's how memetics conceives of the functionality of memes. Have you read Dawkin's "Selfish Gene"?


Is Dawkins "memetics", or is Sue, or are you? See, I think you may be projecting your ideas onto Sue. I also think you were flirting with Sue to a degree.

I'll have a look at it, though.



Kelly: No wonder she can't form a coherent picture of consciousness, if she doesn't like having a single absolute self. Weird. I don't even know what she thinks consciousness is.

Dan: I think she made it abundantly clear she doesn't know.


Yet she thinks she knows how she can know, by observing it scientifically. So she doesn't know that she doesn't know.


I think in some sense she probably feels it's an illusion generated by the functioning of those memes, but she also doesn't think consciousness as an emergent property is an adequate model. Basically she doesn't know. At least she's thinking about it. I'll give her some points for that....


That emergent model business was swept by so fast that it never got clearly explained. If you get her on again, would you ask her to speak more slowly and less?

Did David mean that whatever emerged like light in the darkness of unconsciousness, was consciousness, as caused by what was beyond the light? I.e. not a model at all, but a logical definition of consciousness? If Sue accepted that, she'd accept that consciousness is not a mystery, but simply whatever comes to light.


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Postby Kevin Solway » Thu May 10, 2007 1:12 am

Personally I consider her thinking on the subject to be so vague that it is virtually impossible to get her to clarify her ideas. She is lost in the henids. (And that's probably why Dan has fancies her)
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Postby Dan Rowden » Thu May 10, 2007 9:34 am

I reject the idea that I flirted with the woman. I was certainly impressed with her views on reincarnation, for example, and made that clear. Had she been male I would have been equally impressed. I mean, how many scientists has anyone ever heard speaking about the matter in that way? Or even practicing Buddhists? I think it's sort of childish to say I flirted just because she's a woman. I was more shocked than anything.

And yes, her thinking on consciousness thus far, at least from what could be gleaned by that conversation, has a long way to go and addressing the issue scientifically won't help that much. I don't think anyone is suggesting that she's a sage. But I also think her unconventional views deserve encouragement given the circles she travels in.
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Postby David Quinn » Thu May 10, 2007 10:07 am

Agreed. She is a maverick who is more rational and courageous than most scientists out there, so it is natural that Dan and I both felt a connection to her. Speaking personally, I felt that I was talking with a human being - as opposed to, say, an alien, which is what I felt towards Berzin the week before.

Dan's point about the show having a different format to the forum is a good one. Conversation between three people evolves linearly and naturally during an hour long show, whereas forum discussion amongst dozens of people tends to be far more fragmented and multi-forked. You can't really apply the same tack in a show as you do in a forum without fragmenting the conversation and breaking it up into pockets of random snatches of conversation that have little context or meaning.

A discussion show is like a lengthy piece of music that has a beginning, a middle and an end, with occasional build-ups and climaxes inbetween, and where each stage of the conversation is related to the other stages. In comparison, the forum is more like postmodernist pastiche which has no real direction in an overall sense.

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Postby Diebert van Rhijn » Thu May 10, 2007 10:34 am

David Quinn wrote:
Diebert wrote:In my view the confusion in such discussions is the lack of a clear view on what emotion is. By lumping in a lot of human
behavior it becomes almost a crime to be anti-emotion.


I don't know, Diebert. I think everyone knows what emotions are. Or at least they are aware of the standard emotions - fear, anger, happiness, jealousy, etc. As far as these types of discussions are concerned, such as the one on the show, this conception of the emotions is sufficient. Susan Blackmore definitely understood that I was referring to the standard emotions in my use of the word "emotion".


To me this sounds the same as saying that everyone knows what 'standard' suffering is. While the real problem, ignorance, is not knowing exactly what suffering is and where it comes from. Same goes with emotions, as manifestation of deeper sufferings. It just doesn't seem effective to assume some standard understanding on this.

Susan said something in the end to the effect of it being 'inhuman' not having emotions. This is true of course as long as one defines humanity as including what one calls emotions.

David Quinn wrote:It is only when more advanced practitioners of truth discuss the subject that a more precise definition of emotion is needed.


True enough, but there's a fine line between being less precise and just plain incoherent. Many people connect emotion with life, spontaneity, reaction, true feeling, etc. So just talking about a "lack of emotion" people will assume one is meaning something dead, stiff, deceptive and defensive. What's the use of creating such a reaction? What makes this fit for 'beginners'? I think it's just needlessly confronting people with very advanced distinctions.

David Quinn wrote:How do I improve my bandwidth?


On second thoughts: if you were the one recording all the voices then it's likely not your Skype bandwidth that can be improved.

Anyway, incoming connections (here UDP returns) are sometimes blocked by some firewall and/or external modem-routers. Skype then goes into a relay-mode giving more delays and less bandwith. Fully allowing UDP type connections really improve the situation. I've no clue if in your case these things are even an issue, it's just one the things that could be optimized in some cases.

David Quinn wrote:It's not that easy when you cannot see these people and there is a slight delay in the signal between us. The only way to interrupt them would be to talk over the top of them until they stopped talking, which is something that doesn't sit well with me.


The delay hadn't occurred to me and is of course a problem compared to old fashioned radio. Some guests might be more relaxed too if they can take the time. It will depend on the quality of the guests too, how willing they are to engage in true dialog or just prefer to have a platform instead.

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Postby Kelly Jones » Thu May 10, 2007 11:29 am

As Scott mentioned, one cannot know for sure what anyone is thinking. However, their output is indicative of what they're likely to be thinking. On that basis, I think it's likely that Dan (and perhaps David too) was attracted to the qualities of intelligence, eloquence, and mild eccentricity displayed by Sue, and then projected more advanced meanings onto her words.

Here is the nugget I'm thinking of:

David: I was just wondering, Sue...Do you believe in life and death?

Sue: Do I believe in life and death?

David: Yes.

Sue: In the sense of...? What a lovely question.

[Dan snorts at her joke]

Sue: In the sense of your tree, yes, I think you can say that a tree is alive when its leaves are growing and it's shedding them in the autumn and it's fruiting and whatever; and it's dead when it's lying down on the ground and it's being eaten by something else. And you can say that at a certain point a person dies, it's not an absolute sudden thing, it's not instantaneous, but you know --- life and death in that sense. Do I believe in life and death in the sense that "I", some essential "me" or spirit or soul or something like that, is alive and then will die, no I don't. I think selves are just endlessly recreated in one system, like this body that's called Sue Blackmore, again and again, different selves that think they're Sue Blackmore, and think they're in charge, appear and disappear, and so on. So, in a sense, life and death is just an endless cycle, happening all the time, every moment. And it doesn't have a beginning or an end in the sense of there being a "me" who is born at one time and dies at another. I don't know whether that really answers your question, but that's some thoughts on life and death.

David: [Smiling voice] Also we can think of our selves as through the effects of our actions: like, you're talking to us and we're taking on board some of your ideas, so you're reincarnating in some way, inside us and the listeners and whatnot.

Sue: Yes, reincarnation is such a troublesome thing. I get so many emails from so many people who get angry with me for even talking about Buddhism, saying, "You don't know anything about it; the Buddha had all these lives, and we're all going to be reincarnated, and you can't call yourself a Buddhist" - I don't call myself a Buddhist - "How dare you even speak about it when you don't even understand reincarnation" and so on. I shouldn't be upset by these emails, should I.

[Dan snorts]

Sue: But more interesting is to take the concept of reincarnation and to look at what it could mean, and I think, when within Buddhism they talk about "the cycle of rebirth", I think one can think of it as nothing to do with a soul or a spirit that gets reincarnated, which after all is what the Buddha denied right from the very start: you know, "we have this false self created by clinging, the way is to let go of that clinging self," and so on, so the self disappears. What then does reincarnation mean if there is not a self who lives in one body and then goes on to another? What I think it can mean is that the sense of self that is continuously arising, this illusion that keeps popping up --- and every time we think in a particular way: "Ooh! I want this," or "I believe that," or "I need to do such-and-such a thing", or "I just decided x," that gives birth to a new image of self, again and again and again, as long as we think about things in that way, that a self has consciousness and free-will and does things and decides things, then rebirth is happening every moment all the time, probably lots and lots in parallel at any one time within a person, just to make it more complicated.

[Dan snorts]

Sue: So in that sense, getting off the cycle of rebirth would be just not falling into that illusion again and again, just letting go of the whole thing.

Dan: Well, I think I've only ever met possibly three or four Buddhists in my entire life who actually hold that particular view of reincarnation, even though I regard it as a very accurate one.

Sue: I don't know, I certainly couldn't count the number of people, even whether it's a coherent view, we could count....I'm struggling, as you can tell, I'm struggling with my own practice, my own attempts to look into what it means to be human, what it is that happens. And that's the best that I can do for the moment. I'd like to ask you about these three or four people. Were they people who you felt had really got some insight? Or were you thinking that it was just an intellectual view that people hold?

Dan: No, absolutely, that these people were people who had insight. Even though you say you're struggling with these ideas, and it's good that you're very candid and honest about that, I have to say that that description of reincarnation is one of the best I've ever heard. And it's pretty much the same view that David and I would hold, even though we might describe it differently, somewhat differently. Again, I'm speaking for David and I probably shouldn't do that.

David: Well, what about the role of emotional attachments, because in my way of thinking if there is no self, then to become emotionally attached to things, you know, for the sake of happiness, and comfort, and whatnot, is really a delusion, because it's based on a concept of self. Like, for example, my mother's currently dying of dementia and I know your mother died recently of dementia. I know society expects me to be upset about this, but I'm not really all that emotional about it because, it's partly to do with the fact that she has had the disease for some years and you kind of come to terms with the fact, and also that she's lived a long life and so forth. But mainly it's to do with I no longer think of her as my mother, because when I think of what gave birth to me, she is just one small component of that, and I think of oxygen, I think of food, I think of the evolution of the species, I think of the Big Bang. You know, millions and millions of things have come together to produce me, so the whole of Nature is my true mother, and so I can't really get emotional about the coming death of my biological mother. Do you think that's a reasonable way to go, if you don't believe in the self anymore?

Sue: Ohh, dementia is a tough one, and as you say, I've just seen my mother die last month of dementia, and at the end, couldn't make - speak - couldn't speak at all, couldn't make any sense, couldn't recognise anybody, was just curled up in the chair and - uhh [gets emotional] - it is a terrible---

David: Yes, it's horrible.

Sue: Pardon?

David: It's a horrible thing. Yep. Sure.

Sue: Yeh, it's a horrible thing to go through, and many of us have to go through watching people we love go that way, and we'll probably go that way ourselves, and be just as unaware when it comes to us.

David: If we're lucky.

Sue: Yes. But to go back to your question, it seems to me that to be emotional and to care and to love people and to be hurt by people are all ordinary human capacities that human bodies have. And we shouldn't try to suppress them or --- We need to acknowledge that that's what they are, they're natural human capacities. Thinking of it in that way is very different to thinking of it as "I've got a little self in here who's the one who is upset and crying" which is the way we talk about it in our ordinary language and how we think about it. So I think it's possible to throw out the idea of the little self who's the one who's having the emotions, and simply have them in a much more spontaneous and ordinary way. I don't very often quote Zen stories, and I don't know who they were, or where they came from, but I often remember a story told a long time ago, about this - you know, typical Zen story - there's this great master sitting up in a cave somewhere or another, and back down in the town his son dies, and one of the monks is sent up to tell him that his son has died. And the monk comes up and he greets the master and he says, "Oh, master, I've got to tell you that your son has died." Whereupon the master cries. And the monk is completely surprised and he says, "But you're supposed to be an enlightened master, why should you cry?" He says, "I'm crying because my son has died." What that story says to me, is that it's perfectly natural to be sad and to cry and to grieve and so on, and it's not because there's a "little you" in there who's lost their mummy, it's biologically because we're creatures who cry when sad things happen like losing their mother. That sustained me to some extent through this ghastly process, but by raising the question of dementia, you've made it very complicated. Because what you've done, and I certainly did, is you do a lot of your grieving long before they die. So when my mother finally died, it was relief and was fairly straightforward, I stood there looking in the coffin and I thought all the things you thought, about, my body came from this one, it's just part of the chain going back endlessly, of information copying through the universe, and so on. And I said goodbye to her quite happily. [Sounds very unconvincing]

David: Yeh, well, I literally and quite honestly haven't experienced any emotion at all. But I'm wondering just how, if you no longer believe in a self, that really means that the boundaries between you and the rest of the universe - you don't really believe them, you believe that what you really are is the Totality, everything ---

Sue: Yes!

David: ---How can you experience emotion, if you have that perception?

Sue: Oh, it happens! It happens! It cries, she cries, tears come welling up, you know. It's not me experiencing them, in the same way. Anyway, I'm not claiming to have achieved this disillusion, only to be struggling along with this process.

David: Yes.

Sue: But I would say that emotions happen, they are things that bodies do. Adrenalin goes up, your adrenalin goes down, this/that happens, all the different things happen, tears come, shaky feelings in the tummy come, these things come in response to what's going on in the immediate universe. You know, someone says something cruel and this thing here bursts into tears. That's just how it is to be a human being.


My theory is that Sue's idea of the illusory self is based on the belief that the true I is really a collection of multiple personalities or values (her memes idea), and the false I is the concept of a coherent, unified me inside the biological body that coordinates these personalities. Consequently, she believes that false reincarnation is when the false I appears to mind (she correlates any needs and emotions with this false I), and true reincarnation is the ongoing lives of the memes. As a result, Sue can hold onto the emotional life, which she calls natural and human, because she rightly can't abandon the biological organism --- and nor can she actually abandon the false I, which she admits she's struggling with. I conclude that Sue's insight about her earlier "out-of-body" experience lacked the awareness of the illusory nature of Reality itself, such that she continues to have out-of-body experiences. Notice that she said, "It's not me experiencing [crying/tears]". She is literally identifying with her true I (multiple personalities that don't wish to conceive of her self as a unified organism), a thing that is separate from the body.

This is why I think Dan's agreement with her idea of reincarnation is foolish, and that it was likely to have occurred because he was attracted to an illusion overlaid onto his experience of her.

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Postby Dan Rowden » Thu May 10, 2007 12:07 pm

[snort]
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