9:00 am. Allan Brothers Coffee House
I am aware of contradictions in my thinking. I might best compare myself with Thomas Jefferson by a couple of traits. It is well known by friends that Jefferson is a prominent member of my internal pantheon. One way of comparison is that Jefferson loved books and loved to be surrounded by them. Indeed, even if I am not able to read them, I love to be surrounded by them. And the types matter as well. As though it were an osmosis affect, whereby I absorb the flavor of the books around me. Some are decidedly tastier than others to be around. Another aspect of comparison is that Jefferson is criticized as not being an original thinker, but was a great harmonizer of ideas circulating around him at the time. Yet he attended many salons and read a great deal. The biographer of American Sphinx writes that Jefferson could not handle dissonance in his mind. When such came up, as it often did, he expended great mental energy to sythesizing the ideas as a whole. Of course it should be noted that this is not purely a Jeffersonian characteristic, for this is common in everyone to some degree and is approached by Cognitive Dissonance Theory. This charge was levied by Jefferson’s critics to diminish claims as to the appearance of his brilliance. Again, the charge being that Jefferson was unoriginal in his thinking. Yet how many people can truly say that their’s is original thinking? I would argue that it is few indeed. Jefferson was indeed brilliant. Now to my original point starting this thought. I find it hard to bear apparently gross opposing thoughts in my mind. If two “facts” be opposed to each other, I look for a superordinate fact within which both may take a different meaning. Where I hope to emulate Jefferson is to take my common adversion to cognitive dissonance and move into better shaping of my ideas than is commonly seen. Most of the time I would deem my attempts unsuccessful. I am aware of how lacking in complexity, control, and depth of thought I truly am. My mind flitters like a flock of sparrows and rarely does it sit still like an owl. Coffee seems to help in slowing me down, giving me a bit of clarity in my mental storm of ideas. And this storm of ideas are not all ideas which can be put into philosophical treatise. Some are emotional tones, patches of images, parts of a melody and poetry.
The conflicts in my mind are welcomed. I adore them and am most grateful for them. How drab of a life without conflict. How useless and unfulfilling. I have a desire now to re-investigate Jung. I approached Jung the first time in 95 as a result of my quest for philosophy of mind. I re-started this in 96 as part psychology and part metaphysics, meaning I had a lot of spiritual interests at the time and Jung was seen as the bridge between my mind for science and spirit. I left Jung for a bit the past year, going far off in my circle and I’ve come to a strange point in the road. My readings in nuerology, memes, evolution, and existentialism have somewhat diminished a great deal of the hocus pocus I’ve carried with me for a decade. (it feeds on the poetic of the spirit). And at the same time I find a mercurial aspect, a shadow in the dark to which I cannot quite see but which I sense is there. I recall reading Jung’s lectures and his repeated insistance to the audience of the empirical nature of his theory. Jung is criticisized by psychologists (and others) for being overly mystical, and Jungians are ever discussing an archetype in a contemporary setting. Admittedly, my experience with Jung centers in Houston and in Eugene is severely lacking, however I do not recall any attention given to the empirical aspects of Jung. Jung himself stressed this point, current science and psychology stresses it, and yet I do not recall any statistical methods used or written in any guest lecture at a Jung center or conference. It is unfair for psychologists today to discredit Jung’s claim to empirical research because of the time he lived. It would be like modern pilots discrediting the Wright brothers first flight because they could not perform an Immelman maneuver.
But I do not mean to stray for so long on a defense of Jung. I do not see a need to do so. Jung himself would not, isntead he would welcome criticism of a legitimate inquiry for the truth (instead of rattling sabres). Were he to be alive today he would assuredly employ modern statistical methods in his formulation of his theory.
My relativist morality, natural selection beliefs, and existential philosophy, do not all mesh up quite perfectly. But there is a dimension which is not adding up, which is, as I alluded to earlier, shadowy and black. And as I think on the subject of Jung comes to mind. What if I approached Jung, ridding all my bias, and looking for empirical usage? I gave the DJ the thinking experiment dealing with the philosophy of mind and the self. Suppose we change only one neuron with a working computer chip which acted like the neuron. Would you still be yourself? It is likely, several billion neurons to one doesn’t change a person a whole lot. Suppose we change over more and more neurons (the computer neurons work as the same as the biological ones). At which point are you nolonger your self? Or do you remain yourself? If so, can an android then be sentient? Is it purely a biological funciton? Are animals sentient? Why/why not? This line of questioning compltely dumfounded my DJ who’s biggest thoughts are generally where can he score some goods next. But the question posed to him rings now in my mind.
This leads me to the gestalt of the self. Is consciousness what we are, or is consciousness a uber-feedback loop. What is consciousness? Is consciousness a state? Is it dependant on physical entity? The problem is a bias to think of Self as our thinking mind, and this means an awareness of one’s self (cogito ergo sum) with physical structures. Is Beethoven’s 9th symphony a large orchestra? Is it winds and brass? Is it something which transcends the orchestra? Can it live independantly of the orchestra? Is there a getalt involved? The sum greater than the parts? Is it possible for the self to, at the ame time, persist over a lifetime, and yet continually and perpetually be re-created? The orchestra of neurons play the music of our consciousness, which is aware of its own awareness. Is awareness a state? Suppose the music become aware of itself, does this awareness change with each instrument in the orchestra, can it tell a general type of change in itself, but at the sametime be woefully unable to fully grasp the boundaries of such? The awareness of being aware and the passing of information from moment to moment and person to person concludes there is something permanent here, so I must be a being within this body, a spirit. What would we be without either archetypes, memes, or consciousness? What does current neurological research say about this?
Tool usage in animals. Interesting studies, chimps using stones as weapons. The neurology of throwing a fastball, the increasing neurological needs and closing window of opportunity to release the ball at doubling distances. I have a desire to read Howard Gardner now.
2:45 pm Starbucks at the University of Oregon
Before I knew it I had spent over three hours at Allan Brothers reading If a Lion Could Talk. The descriptions and philosophical inquiry on numerous examples of animal behavior studies and inferences on cognitive abilities were utterly fascinating. However, I left because of sleep deprivation and hunger were strong motivators. I stopped at Smith Family Bookstore and bought The Legacy and The Crystal Shard, two R.A. Salvatore books for a small sum of $7, and browsed the psychology and philosophy section. I bought the relatively new book Socrates Cafe and if the book is a enjoyable as the preface I shall thoroughly enjoy it. With umbrella open over me, I walked the sidewalk toward UO reading the delightful book. I stopped in Starbucks to brab a Quiznos sub, a shot of espresso, and another mocha. I’ve already had one mocha and a black coffee at Allan Brothers. I am enroute to UO library to peruse the psychology and biology journals, and to also walk the campus… enlivening my dream of returning to academia. Inside of Starbucks there are many, many students. Should I meet a woman which particularly strikes my fancy I feel as though I should not hesitate to ask her out on a date. I wonder if hte new bank teller at my bank is single (her name is Mara)?
Christopher Phillips illustrates the tone and approach of his Socrates Cafe gatherings. Yes! This is what I want to find in Eugene! I could give a damn about intellectual posturing. I get bored and impatient with the REDNECKCA in The Philosophy Cafe so aptly termed “quotation fencing”.
On the upcoming special election on measure 28. I do not like for one moment the bundling of prison funds with educational funds. I wonder if the vote was for prison/police funds only, if it stood a snowball’s chance in hell of passing?
Page 11, “better the rigid hand of determinism of astrological fate than that terrifying burden of daily responsibility”. I wonder, if perhaps some of the emotional attacks against existentialism by some is a manifestation of their fears along just such lines?
4:00 I leave Starbucks for UO Knight Library
6:30 Dairy Queen at UO. I took a 20 minute walk around campus, making a swing through the majestic grove of trees in the historical cemetary on campus before arriving at the library. There I headed for the journals section and browsed until had about six journals in my hand ranging from politics to psychology. I was interested in an environmental psychology journal’s article on resource depletion. In a nutshell there is a amount of resource renewal. For example, trees grow back. The standard logic would suggest that sustainable resource usage would not surpass the renewal rate of the resource. However, the study questioned the approaches to resource harvesting if the rate of resource renewal fluctuated or was uncertain. What they found, using artificlal market based consumats (computer simulations on current behavior routines) was that the greater the uncertainty in the rate of renewal, the greater the optimism toward the resource, even to the point where harvesting surpassed the OCH (optimal continued harvesting) levels.
Another article of interest was in the Psychological Bulletin and addressed the logic paradigm in behavior. It was so intriguing that I photocopied it.
Now I am at the Dairy Queen, finishing a blizzard, and reading Socrates Cafe. I’ve already gone 50 pages of this delightful and easy reading book.