I’ve been listening to Alan Watts‘ lectures this morning, thoroughly recommended. They’re pretty short, easy to digest …and make sense for me. Available as a podcast too.

“You cannot get an intelligent organism such as a human being out of an unintelligent universe.”

Hmm. I guess that means I must be intelligent…?

Comments have been disabled for this post.

Those received between the time of first publishing and the removal of the comments include the following:

Thomas Hurst said…

That comment reminds me of a couple of Jehovas Witnesses we had visit us a few times, years ago. They attempted to convince me that life can’t come from non-life because of the second law of thermodynamics; that the entropy (disorder) of a closed system always increases.

When I explained that the entropy of the universe overall is most certainly increasing even while life might reduce it locally, just as tidying a desk might reduce entropy on the desk but increase it everywhere else by expending that energy, he agreed with me, but seemed to think I was agreeing with him. Maybe I should have explained it to him using smaller words, but he swiftly moved on to the similarly flawed “a hurricane can’t build a 747” analogy.

“Intelligence can’t come from non-intelligence” sounds much the same. How the hell would he know (does he have any peer reviewed papers?), and how do you solve things like the infinite-regress problem of an intelligent universe not being able to come from a non-intelligent one.. is it smrt universe all the way down?


Joseph Said…

Thanks for your comment Thomas.

I won’t try and argue my case based on any scientific theory, because I’m not educated enough in that field.

However, I would say that for me personally, there is so much sense and interconnectivity in all that is and all that happens around me, that it feels far less probable that this is a result of coincidences occurring within a disordered universe, than the results of some form of action carried out by some form of intelligent energy.


Anonymous said…

My word Joseph…this sounds remarkably like you subscribe to the concept of “intelligent design” (ugh…)…next thing you’ll be telling us you’ve “found God”.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are programmed to try to make sense of what is happening around us…we look for patterns, things that are familiar, things that we can hold onto, so we don’t get overwhelmed by the infinite randomness and complexity of life. It is a strength but also a weakness. Questions we can never know the answers to need to be explained somehow…thus, you end up with religion and various other ideologies that serve no purpose but to put our minds at rest. To allow ourselves to relax and to stop searching for an answer that may/will never come.

Strangely enough, this links in with the entry below. Why can we not be happy that this is all there is? Why can we not be happy that we will, live, love and die and nothing more? Why do we have to believe we are special in some otherworldly way, are we not special enough to the people we love already? It is this dissatisfaction with is what we already have, the lives we already lead, that frustrates me. All this stuff about life-force and stuff…in the end, does it really matter? The here and now is all that matters…and even if there is anything after, well, let’s just say you won’t be in a position to blog about it!

I am also beginning to get a little concerned all these “motivational” tapes/books you seem to be consuming. Admittedly, you seem pretty happy at the moment…perhaps deliriously so. The only problem I have with them (putting aside the fact I think most of it is woolly-minded clap-trap) is that many of them have exactly the same amorphous messages just put in slightly different way. More often than not their messages are hopelessly indistinct…like a cloud or a Rorschach inkblot…or a politician. Politicians try to be all things to all people. That requires them to say nothing, but to sound like they are saying something. They toss in a little spin to try to get all those people with those different views to see in the politician things that they like. Many of the slogans Nightingale/Kiyosaki et al spew forth are amorphous and generic in their actual meaning, but have the effect of making people think they have just gotten good advice. This is also why horoscopes often appear to be so “apt”. Their aptness is self-provided. In effect, their cryptic obscurity provides a random set of ‘answers’ that the reader fabricates into something seemingly appropriate and useful. Perhaps these motivational tapes are filling some spiritual void…? Who knows. After all, we all have an overwhelming desire to believe in something, anything…and these tapes are always vague but full of promise, emphasising enthusiasm/devotion over rationality and clear thinking…sounds a bit like organised religion, no?

Additionally, if you keep listening to stuff that reaffirms beliefs you already hold – it becomes less a process of self-improvement but a process of self-stagnation – your opinions become brittle, unbending and blinkered. You lose the ability to look at situations from a different perspective, so deeply entrenched become these views. Reliable decisions are only made if based on the clash of conflicting views.

I can’t understand this latest entry…we gain satisfaction when we know we’ve done our best. Disappointment comes when you know you could’ve/can do better – in turn, this dissatisfaction is the fuel from which determination comes. Determination is how progress in any area of our lives, in society in general, is made. The desire to succeed this is what you need. Of course as long as you are clear of your definition of success. Maybe Darren is dissatisfied because he knows he can achieve more. If he just sat back and rested on his laurels he may never be truly fulfilled…he’d always have that niggling thought that he could do more. In this situation the idea of writing down your goals is a good one – if you know what you where you want to be you won’t be constantly striving for some unspecified goal. You’re confusing determination with undeserved self-satisfaction.

[this comment has had the final paragraph removed]


Joseph said…

…quite a lot, but it’s not fit for publishing.

My apologies, anon, for inferring that you are “stupid”, which of course I do not believe to be the case. As a result of that I had a very restless night, forgot to feed the dog and woke up in a sweat!

My apologies also for removing your final paragraph, and your next comment in its entirety – I do not wish to have that conversation here, although I shall keep the comment for when the book comes out 🙂 Clearly, you have strong negative views on the subject, just as I did. There is much evidence to support your argument.

However, there is also much evidence to the contrary. I’m now making a conscious choice to go with the latter school. Ultimately, none of it matters, so if I am proved wrong in the long term we can smile and move on.

Perhaps I am naive in believing that people are fundamentally good.

joseph


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4 Responses

  1. That comment reminds me of a couple of Jehovas Witnesses we had visit us a few times, years ago. They attempted to convince me that life can’t come from non-life because of the second law of thermodynamics; that the entropy (disorder) of a closed system always increases.

    When I explained that the entropy of the universe overall is most certainly increasing even while life might reduce it locally, just as tidying a desk might reduce entropy on the desk but increase it everywhere else by expending that energy, he agreed with me, but seemed to think I was agreeing with him. Maybe I should have explained it to him using smaller words, but he swiftly moved on to the similarly flawed “a hurricane can’t build a 747” analogy.

    “Intelligence can’t come from non-intelligence” sounds much the same. How the hell would he know (does he have any peer reviewed papers?), and how do you solve things like the infinite-regress problem of an intelligent universe not being able to come from a non-intelligent one.. is it smrt universe all the way down?

  2. Thanks for your comment Thomas.

    I won’t try and argue my case based on any scientific theory, because I’m not educated enough in that field.

    However, I would say that for me personally, there is so much sense and interconnectivity in all that is and all that happens around me, that it feels far less probable that this is a result of coincidences occurring within a disordered universe, than the results of some form of action carried out by some form of intelligent energy.

  3. My word Joseph…this sounds remarkably like you subscribe to the concept of “intelligent design” (ugh…)…next thing you’ll be telling us you’ve “found God”.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are programmed to try to make sense of what is happening around us…we look for patterns, things that are familiar, things that we can hold onto, so we don’t get overwhelmed by the infinite randomness and complexity of life. It is a strength but also a weakness. Questions we can never know the answers to need to be explained somehow…thus, you end up with religion and various other ideologies that serve no purpose but to put our minds at rest. To allow ourselves to relax and to stop searching for an answer that may/will never come.

    Strangely enough, this links in with the entry below. Why can we not be happy that this is all there is? Why can we not be happy that we will, live, love and die and nothing more? Why do we have to believe we are special in some otherworldly way, are we not special enough to the people we love already? It is this dissatisfaction with is what we already have, the lives we already lead, that frustrates me. All this stuff about life-force and stuff…in the end, does it really matter? The here and now is all that matters…and even if there is anything after, well, let’s just say you won’t be in a position to blog about it!

    I am also beginning to get a little concerned all these “motivational” tapes/books you seem to be consuming. Admittedly, you seem pretty happy at the moment…perhaps deliriously so. The only problem I have with them (putting aside the fact I think most of it is woolly-minded clap-trap) is that many of them have exactly the same amorphous messages just put in slightly different way. More often than not their messages are hopelessly indistinct…like a cloud or a Rorschach inkblot…or a politician. Politicians try to be all things to all people. That requires them to say nothing, but to sound like they are saying something. They toss in a little spin to try to get all those people with those different views to see in the politician things that they like. Many of the slogans Nightingale/Kiyosaki et al spew forth are amorphous and generic in their actual meaning, but have the effect of making people think they have just gotten good advice. This is also why horoscopes often appear to be so “apt”. Their aptness is self-provided. In effect, their cryptic obscurity provides a random set of ‘answers’ that the reader fabricates into something seemingly appropriate and useful. Perhaps these motivational tapes are filling some spiritual void…? Who knows. After all, we all have an overwhelming desire to believe in something, anything…and these tapes are always vague but full of promise, emphasising enthusiasm/devotion over rationality and clear thinking…sounds a bit like organised religion, no?

    Additionally, if you keep listening to stuff that reaffirms beliefs you already hold – it becomes less a process of self-improvement but a process of self-stagnation – your opinions become brittle, unbending and blinkered. You lose the ability to look at situations from a different perspective, so deeply entrenched become these views. Reliable decisions are only made if based on the clash of conflicting views.

    I can’t understand this latest entry…we gain satisfaction when we know we’ve done our best. Disappointment comes when you know you could’ve/can do better – in turn, this dissatisfaction is the fuel from which determination comes. Determination is how progress in any area of our lives, in society in general, is made. The desire to succeed this is what you need. Of course as long as you are clear of your definition of success. Maybe Darren is dissatisfied because he knows he can achieve more. If he just sat back and rested on his laurels he may never be truly fulfilled…he’d always have that niggling thought that he could do more. In this situation the idea of writing down your goals is a good one – if you know what you where you want to be you won’t be constantly striving for some unspecified goal. You’re confusing determination with undeserved self-satisfaction.

    One final point…I’ve read your blog for long enough to get used to the constant digs at the “working life” but it doesn’t stop it being any less annoying. The continual, sneering degradation of people who have or, heaven forbid, would like to have a J.O.B. Now, I well know you own views on this and I know a certain organisation you are involved with goes out of it’s way to demonise the concept of “a 9-5” and anyone who has one or wants one is some kind of mindless drone (oh, the irony…) who is destined for a life of grinding poverty and mind-numbing routine but this is not the case. If you have a job you like, a job you are good at, a job that provides the kind of lifestyle you aspire to (whatever that may be)…is that really such a bad thing? Yeah, yeah…you might be working for The Man (or whatever other out-dated 70s slogans you want to throw around)…but, at the end of the day, if you are happy with your life, who really cares? I don’t know…maybe you’ve had some bad experiences of employment (although, who hasn’t to be honest) or maybe you just haven’t really found THE thing you really want to do with your life (but I’m guessing it doesn’t involved pedalling over-priced “cosmetics”), I can’t say, but this overly-negative view of the world of work is pretty depressing…

  4. Hello anonymous,

    I would like to make this reply a post in its own right. However, if you would prefer that I don’t, please do let me know and I’ll just leave it here.

    cheers

    joseph

    _____________________

    kyou mo kangaesaserareru komento wo kurete arigatougozaimasu.

    ‘Tis appreciated. Thought-provoking stuff.

    Let’s take things one at a time shall we?

    Intelligent design? Does that apply to my thinking? Maybe, I don’t know. I’ve heard of it but I don’t know anything about it – is it worth looking into?

    “Found God”? Have I? I don’t know. I feel good, I feel I know myself a bit better than I did a while back, and I feel happy feeling like I share something with everything and everyone around me. Does that fulfil the ‘found God’ criteria? If so, maybe I have , if not, maybe I haven’t. It’s up to you I guess. I feel that everyone’s definition of ‘finding God’ is different, and personally I don’t really feel that that label has any place in my life, just as you don’t appear to feel that it has a place in yours.

    Maybe it all is just some gimmick to set our minds at rest. If it is, hurrah! Here’s a simple mind game we can all play and be happy as a result – I thoroughly recommend it! Are there really any fundamental truths at the end of the day? Isn’t it just a matter of perception? This reality – it’s only ‘reality’. because we choose to believe it is. Even if these ideologies serve no other purpose other than to put our minds to rest, to bring us peace and comfort, I think that they are serving a very good purpose. (I would disagree that this is all that they do though. Not all are so neutral, many claim it’s a zero-sum game, which of course it isn’t. Once again though, I think it’s all a matter of perception).

    “Why can we not be happy that this is all there is?” – I’m sure if we worked at it hard enough, we could. Perhaps those who do feel this are the most enlightened of us all, free of the need to imagine a past and/or future existence on another plane. Content with all as it is. Imagine the relief that would bring! No more pursuits of truth, no more anxieties about the unknown, just peace. Life force? Absolutely, does it really matter? At the end of the day perhaps not – but I do feel it. That feeling could well be a construct of my imagination, but if it is, does that really matter? I’m not interfering with others by believing that I do feel some root connection with stuff around me, it does no harm. It just makes me feel happy and grateful, so why not indulge? It gives me energy, energy that I believe I am putting to good use through what I’m doing with my 24 hours a day.

    And of course, as you say, the here and now is all that matters! And feeling that I am but a teeny weeny part of some greater energy gives me great strength in dealing with this one and only here and now.

    “many of them have exactly the same amorphous messages just put in slightly different way”

    You’ve noticed that too? Funny that isn’t it – I wonder why it could be… 🙂 Glad to hear you have persevered in reading some of them anyhow.

    “Perhaps these motivational tapes are filling some spiritual void…?” You are probably right! I did feel I had a spiritual void before. It’s funny though, when I digest them now, I feel like I know the taste so well – didn’t I eat this a long time ago…? It’s amazing how tastes, smells and sounds can trigger memory recalls. I know this stuff! I just forgot it, somewhere.

    “Many of the slogans Nightingale/Kiyosaki et al spew forth are amorphous and generic in their actual meaning, but have the effect of making people think they have just gotten good advice”
    How right you are! It’s probably deliberate though – I mean, Rich Dad Poor Dad probably wouldn’t sell so well if it only seemed relevant to a three people. Cunning, those authors.

    Weird thing is though, when I put judgement aside, took on board their wooly-minded clap-trap and put their lessons into practice, my life became a lot better. Of course, this was probably a coincidence.

    “and these tapes are always vague but full of promise, emphasising enthusiasm/devotion over rationality and clear thinking”.
    I think if you have been listening to these tapes too and expecting some clear answers you have set yourself up for disappointment! We’re all different, how can anyone else tell us the answers to our problems? We have to work that out for ourselves, surely? If it doesn’t come from within us, there will always be doubt.

    What books are these that subjugate rationality and clear thinking? I don’t see that in Kiyosaki or Nightingale’s works. I think it’s important not to believe everything you read. Ask yourself what feels right, discard the rest, then even if there is a strong theme of devotion it need not trouble you.

    “Additionally, if you keep listening to stuff that reaffirms beliefs you already hold – it becomes less a process of self-improvement but a process of self-stagnation”
    Too right! Which is why I have you to keep me in check! And this is why I love to read differing opinions. I have no intention of becoming anyone’s (or any group’s) disciple. To hand over my life to someone else like that would, I feel, be rather daft.

    “…dissatisfaction is the fuel from which determination comes. Determination is how progress in any area of our lives, in society in general, is made. The desire to succeed this is what you need.”

    Yep, this really is a tricky one. I’m thinking at the moment it’s a case of finding the right balance. Acknowledging that one could have done better, and using the disappointment as a kick up the arse. In Darren’s case however, the disappointment looms so large that it is acting as a dampener on his spirits, robbing him of motivation. Apologies for not indicating the degree to which it was affecting him.

    “I’ve read your blog for long enough to get used to the constant digs at the “working life” but it doesn’t stop it being any less annoying.”

    You know, I honestly hadn’t even noticed that my post could have been interpreted as a dig at those who have a ‘J.O.B.’, as you put it …and reading it again now I see that it can’t have been this post. Anyway, I never seek to put others down in what they do. It’s their lives, no business of mine! Do you feel I am personally attacking you? If so, my apologies. I don’t think it’s worth getting annoyed by what I write though – it’s only my opinion, and who I am? I’m only Joseph.

    If you are coming here to read things that are agreeable to your ears, then I’d suggest that you are in for disappointment as I have no idea who you are / where you are / what you are, and of course I’m not writing solely for your benefit. Your feeling of annoyance is of your own creation, thus so is your ability to not feel annoyed should you so wish. Personally, if I subscribed to a blog that continued to annoy me I’d stop reading it (as has been the case with many of the blogs I used to subscribe to). I know you will stop reading, perhaps today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next month or next year.

    I’ll miss you when you do though – I appreciate your input.

    “One final point…I’ve read your blog for long enough to get used to the constant digs at the “working life” but it doesn’t stop it being any less annoying. The continual, sneering degradation of people who have or, heaven forbid, would like to have a J.O.B.”
    Sneering degradation? I think you have a slightly skewed perception of me, based upon a lack which of course is not your fault as you barely know me outside of this blog. I would not sneeringly degrade anyone. To do so I would only be degrading myself. Do you remember that episode of Red Dwarf where Rimmer gets his comeuppance in the justice zone? (see from 4:50 on)

    Likewise your perception of the line of business that myself and *Twinkle* are in, and our attitudes towards people who choose a more traditional path. This is a perception that is almost identical to mine of two years ago (indeed, if you go back in the Mumble archives you’ll find me echoing your words!), which was based upon a bad experience in the mid-90s and a lack of open-mindedness. I am fortunate in that *Twinkle* was not as stupid as I was, in that she at least sought to understand, before passing judgement.

    “If you have a job you like, a job you are good at, a job that provides the kind of lifestyle you aspire to (whatever that may be)…is that really such a bad thing?”
    No, it’s wonderful! And it sounds like you have that kind of job, something that I whole-heartedly celebrate.

    “this overly-negative view of the world of work is pretty depressing…” Once again, a matter of perception. Perhaps you read my words and perceive oodles of negativity. I don’t. What would be the point in that? Wouldn’t help me, wouldn’t help you. If I do speak negatively of a ‘job’, then it is only in relation to myself, and certainly nothing to do with you unless you want it to be. What right do I have to put anyone else down?

    Anyway anyway, we have chatted long enough tonight. Thanks again for your time. Perhaps now might be a good opportunity to take a break from this corner of the internet. Links on the right-hand side recommended. My personal favourite is lifehack.org. ‘My so-called Japanese life’ is also highly rated.

    Joseph

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