HOW TO PLAY LIFE: UNDERSTANDING (The Chapter I could not write
while my body and spirit were in prison)
Metaphor: “A) Rhetorical figure transposing a term from its original concept to another and similar one.
B) In its origin, all language was metaphoric; so was poetry. “ Lionelli Venturi 1
PART ONE: THE ABSTRACT LIE
Since we are born with it, the ultimate question for humanity is: what is life? Using a golf metaphor, the questions we ask about life can be sorted into one of three groups:
1) Abstract Lie
2) Hitting Impulse
3) Natural Swing
What is life? This question is like a shout on the canyon rim of what we know. It returns as only an echo of what language can express. Not even modern philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze’s valiant efforts can fill in the chasm between what we know and what we express, (reason).2
The seventeenth century philosopher, Baruch de Spinoza, was aware of the paradox of the gap between knowledge and expression that language creates. He said it was Nature’s work to give us, ‘true ideas’3 but some things are in our intellect and not in Nature; so these are only our own work and help us to understand things distinctly. Among these we include all relations which have reference to different things. These we call, “beings of reason.”4
Spinoza has been called a rationalist but this is only humanistic slander. Spinoza knew all true work was in Nature and that the work of our intellect is to understand how Nature guides our work of reason.
Reason and the actions that follow from it are the work that energy has given us to do. As physicists know, all work is the result of energy. Reason is a staircase to understanding. 5
Understanding is a gift from Nature that unfolds in our work.
Spinoza was the prophet of how we understand that Nature is immanent in our bodies, souls and minds, just as it is in the ‘soul’ of everything in the universe from quark to dark matter that sends and receives information.
Using abstract words like ‘nature,’ ‘reason,’ ‘soul,’ and ‘mind,’ we fall screaming into the chasm between knowing and expression. Wittgenstein calls this: “language on holiday.”6
Wittgenstein says meaning is the use we give words and in my paper: ‘Has Philosophy Ignored Spinoza’s Theory of Science?’ I explore Spinoza’s use of the abstract words like those above, as ‘tourist traps.’ 7
So what do we do if all the language we use cannot transverse the gap between knowing and expression? At its best, we can realize that language conveys metaphors that transpose expression into a like of knowing.
In the Emendation, Short Work on God, Man and His Well-Being and the Ethics,’ Spinoza sets out a method of inquiry, cumulating in ‘intuitive science,’ which builds on the foundations of the master architect of how we live in the space we inhabit: Euclid. 8
Because not even Spinoza can emulate the clear and distinct demonstrations of Euclid’s, which he adored, Spinoza fell into tourist traps. The chief one was ‘God.’
A host of misunderstandings have arisen in the interpretations of Spinoza’s theories, such as seeing Part One of the Ethics as an ‘ontological argument for God’s existence.’ 9
Spinoza, however, was more consistent in building on the foundation of Euclid than those individuals who have interpreted him. The metaphor of Euclid’s Geometry runs throughout the corpus of Spinoza’s work. We must all use metaphors which describe how and where we live, to express what we know.
This is our work and Spinoza says, when we realize we are, “…a part of Nature…(and) follow the laws of Nature…this is divine service…” 10
I am an old man. The condensed energy which has gathered into my body and its work will soon be liberated into what Spinoza calls, ‘mind.’ Some information scientists have called this substance; ‘It from Quibit.”11 The first and second laws of thermodynamics guide my expectation.
Since I was young, two questions have framed my work: 1) What is the meaning of life and all that? 12 2) How do I hit a golf ball? The first question is too abstract and has misled too many people to use. Not even ‘42’ suffices, even though with a scientific inclination, I would like it to do so.
Golf is an innocuous metaphor to those who, like Mark Twain, see golf as a good walk spoiled. I apologize! Ever since a friend took me to the Spokane Country Club to caddy when I was ten, I have had an epiphany of both special beauty and subsequent practical frustrations which I have never been able to reconcile.
An example of the first part of the epiphany is standing on a links course surrounded by water as the sun rose and folded the contours of the grounds in brilliant to fading shades of purple. The second, as all golfers know, is a ‘shank shot;’ the result of trying to hit the ball a mile and it travels 50 yards or so to the left or right.
While golf is an innocuous metaphor, it is also an apt one. It is close to Nature and has the uncanny ability to display the Nature of those who play the game. A duffer is a duffer wherever you find them in life. Look up the Oxford Dictionary definition of ‘duffer!’ 13
Every individual who makes golf their work (professionals), have teachers who have taught them their swings and help to correct the bad habits which creep into all swings. In my work of trying to understand life’s swing (including golf), I have two main teachers: Euclid and Spinoza.
Euclid laid out the course in which we live (space) and Spinoza taught how to play that course (understanding). Of course pros have other teachers who help them fine tune their swings. As Spinoza said, one of life’s great blessings is sharing with like-minded individuals.
While these friends, some in books and others in daily interaction, are too numerous to mention, some are chief: George Boole developed the Laws of Mind from Euclid’s Common Notions, and brought together logic and mathematics in Boolean Algebra which underlies the language of artificial thought – the computer. 14
Albert Einstein, through his Theory of Relativity, brought time and the curvature of space into the course of space Euclid described. 15 He is part of the revolution which helped develop non-Euclidian geometry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which, while not discarding Euclid’s original formulation, greatly enhanced it. Einstein was also a student of Spinoza in his beliefs and in discussing social relationships.
The neuroscientist, Antonoio Damasio, has reintroduced Spinoza’s theories of mind and body into a modern context of neuroscience and a theory of feelings which is separated from theories of emotion which had confused the two.16 Feelings, said Spinoza, are the direct manifestation of Nature’s gift of understanding (the eyes of the mind). 17 Damasio demonstrates why this is so.
I first discovered Seth Lloyd’s work in Scientific American and open each copy expecting new discoveries from him (as I did this month). I then bought Lloyd’s book, Programming the Universe, and consider it one of the most important works in the current evolution of human thinking. 18 Lloyd is an information scientist who follows George Boole in developing Euclid’s foundations on the axioms of thinking. 19
Moe Norman was a Canadian golfer and savant who brought together golf and nature. Moe taught me the failure of trying to hit a golf ball. Gilles Deleuze, who considered Spinoza the prince of philosophers and wrote two books on him, takes reason to its limits in, ‘What Is Philosophy’ with Guatlari.19 This is a magnificent effort and understands philosophy as expression.
Rose DeShaw, my partner in freedom of the spirit is teaching me the art of practical expression. She is the incarnation of Spinoza in my daily life.
Now I have introduced my teachers. Let’s see what they taught me about life.
Euclid began his description of the course on which we play out our lives with these words: “A point is that which has no part.” 20 This may be the most profound statement ever uttered by a human being. It not only acknowledges the chasm between knowing and expression but jumps into it with total abandonment.
We live in eternity. The point where we appear is our tee-off in space and time. Scientists call this point a fluxation. We appear, play a few rounds in space and time and then leave the course (death), maybe to play another course in space and time. Possibly, if they exist in what scientists are hypothesizing as universes, in the mulitiverse.
This popping in and out of space and time, birth and death, is fact but all the rest is pure speculation. Religious teachers have speculated about this popping from viewpoints as varied as the resurrected individual goes to a ‘heaven’ to live with an anthropomorphic God or is extinguished as an individual and ‘absorbed into the supreme spirit in Nirvana.’ 21
Spinoza says we …
”feel and know by experience that we are eternal. For the mind
feels those things that it conceives in understanding no less than those it has in memory. For the eyes of the mind by which it sees and observes things are the demonstrations themselves.”22
The myths and religions of humankind confirm the presence of a feeling that we are eternal. We experience the cycles of life and death in nature every time we look at a flower garden or leaves on a tree. Only humanism, which has lost the sense of being a point and focuses only on a part, can call eternity a delusion. 23
We live in a point of ‘now’ which exists in a gulf between our past and future, here and there. Spinoza displays the source of this chasm:
1) “That the things knowable are infinite.
2) That a finite intellect cannot comprehend the infinite.
3) That a finite intellect can understanding nothing through itself unless it is determined by something external. For just as it has no power to understand everything at once, so it also has no power to begin by understanding this before that or that before this. Not being able to do either the first or the second, it can do nothing.” 24
Then Spinoza continues:
“If man’s [capacity of forming] fiction[s] were the sole cause of his idea, then it would be impossible for him to perceive anything. But he can perceive something.” 25 Humanism falls to the ground with a thud!
Before we go any further, we should clear up a possible source of misunderstanding. The words, ‘Nature,’ ‘God,’ ‘Being,’ ‘Substance,’ ‘Higher Power,’ or any other words that signify an eternal source of knowing should be replaced as mathematicians do, by a variable which does not indicate any context.
Therefore, we indicate the above by ‘X.’ Now we have the chasm covered. In what follows, whenever a source I quote uses an abstract word like ‘God.’ I shall put X behind it.
Spinoza would have avoided the rampant misunderstandings of his theory if he had done this. In his, Laws of Thought, George Boole identifies three laws of signs:
1) “Literal symbols as x, y, & others, representing things as subjects of our conceptions.
2) Signs of operations as +, -, x, standing for those operations of the mind by which the conception of things are combined or resolved so to form new conceptions involving the same elements.
3) The sign of identity=.” 26
Our use of X follows Boole’s definition of the first law of signs. Elsewhere, I discuss that
the first two laws of signs are operations of our brains before we acquire language with the 3rd law of signs. 27
We do not impose mathematics on nature but rather nature formed the operation we call mathematics, in our brains. The operations of math are the formal rules of thought.
This is why Euclid, after he gave us definitions of the course on which we play out our lives and postulates for their design, gave us Common Notions or axioms to guide our thinking:
1) “Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another.
2) If equals be added to equals, the wholes are equal
3) If equals be subtracted from equals, the remainders are equal
4) Things which coincide with one another are equal to one another
5) The whole is greater than the part. “28
Euclid’s Common Notion Four justifies my use of metaphor as a superposition of
equality between knowing and expressions. As Heath says in his notes on Euclid:
“It seems clear that the Common Notion, as here formulated, intended to assert that superposition is a legitimate way of proving the equality of two figures which have the necessary parts respectively equal or, in other words, to serve as an axiom of congruence.”29
Metaphor is one of the operations in our brain in which we try to equate like things as
equal. Thus, as Venturi says: “In its origin, all language was metaphoric.” 30
We live in eternity but have tee-off times in here and now. X has given our brains the clubs (tools) to play this game if only we swing them right. This discovery is why Euclid is the master architect of the course of life.
THE HITTING IMPULSE
Moe Norman said, ‘The Hitting Impulse’ is the source of all error in golf. When asked his opinion of Tiger Woods, one of the great golfers of our day, he pointed to his head and said, “great, here!” Then he waved his arms around and said, “But his swing, woooeee!”3i
Moe knew that Tiger’s reason, like ours, is in a battle with his emotions. Out of this battle comes the hitting impulse. We all want to hit it big, whether it is golf, money, fame or pleasure. Because he was a savant, Moe spoke more with his body than with words. If ever there was a human who avoided the abstract lie, it was Moe.
That’s why his golf game has been called, ‘natural.’ He lived what Spinoza described as, the supreme good…”the knowledge of the union of the mind with the whole of Nature.”32
I tried to know X through reason but the hitting impulse kept getting in the way. Ultimately, the hitting impulse won and I lost my desire to live, (the cognatus which Spinoza says is our most natural desire).
Then I discovered Spinoza. At first I tried to read Spinoza as just another purveyor of reason. I took the summation of the first half of Book Five of the Ethics and did a Dale Carnegie number on it.
I wrote: ‘How to Handle Emotions:
1) Identify emotion
2) Separate emotion from current cause
3) Separate emotion from Not Dones and Fear of Future.
a) Would have done
b) Could have done
c) Should have done
d) Ought to have done
4) Examine how emotion has affected your mind and body
5) Connect emotion to patterns of truth and meaning – know yourself and your place in the universe.33
Other than being somewhat a misreading of Spinoza, the rules were fine except they
were an abstract lie. A ‘lie’ of this nature is the place your ball falls on the golf course. Sometimes it lands on the fairways and sometimes it lands in the rough and can even go out of bounds. Reason can carry you to all three of these lies.
A visit to my nephew who was dying of Duchane’s Disease began the process of learning to not rely on the hitting impulse of reason. He had a trachea in his throat and could no longer talk although he could painfully type out computer messages on two still somewhat functioning fingers. He spent two weeks of communicating with my blurting out reason as a purgative and my nephew confounding it with his eyes and smile.
When I got ready to leave, a delivery truck drove up with a book my nephew had ordered for me online: A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works, edited and translated by Edwin Curley. 34 My nephew died several months later.
Guided by his spirit, I read Part Two of the Ethics where Spinoza finally got through to me what he had been beating into my head from the first page: Only things exist. X is the ultimate thing. Proposition 11 stood out in ‘scarlet threads’: 35 “The first thing which constitutes the actual being of a human mind is nothing but the idea of a singular thing which actually exists”. 36
Then in proposition 24 in Part Five, Spinoza said: “the more we understand singular things, the more we understand God.”37 X lives in each single thing. They express the presence of X. Then the hitting impulse of modern humanism and the critical spirit in philosophy that lived in me got a fatal blow when Spinoza said:
“…the intellect is wholly passive, i.e. a perception in the soul of the essence
and existence of things. So it is never we who affirm or deny something of the
things; it is the thing itself that affirms or denies something of itself in us.” 38
This discussion, however, still resides in an abstract lie. Let’s see if we can do a Moe Norman approach shot and focus on the practical.
Five days a week I take my wife to a former 19th century horse artillery base, part of which has been reconverted to a recreation centre called Artillery Park. She swims for two hours every weekday morning. I swam with her for awhile but when I got maced in the prison, after being stabbed by a prisoner, I lost my tolerance for chlorine.
Now I sit in our jeep and wait for my wife while she swims. My car faces a small park which is bounded on the south by ancient limestone barracks that have been converted to chiropractic offices. The pool is north. Across the street is an equally ancient limestone armory, castlelike in appearance, which is used by reserve troops. Next to the armory are four story brick, limestone-trimmed row houses, built in the 19th century.
In the gap between the armory I can see the spire of a cathedral in the distance. Squirrels, a murder of crows and other birds live in the park. It is a great place to meditate. Instead, being human, I let my brain idle. Parking gear, neutral.
One day I did a thought experiment. I tried to reconstruct what I had been thinking about for the past hour. I was shocked. My brain ran the gauntlet from anger, hate, fear and envy, to lust. A study I read said a normal man thinks about sex every hour.
Odd ball scientists have been searching for a perpetual motion machine for centuries. They did not realize they have one – the brain. The brain is a chatterbox that never shuts up! (Not even in our sleep, neurologists suggest).
What is the brain chattering about? Usually emotions from the primitive brain: anger, fear and other emotions that were programmed to help primitive humans survive. We have the same primal brain as animals. Nightmares and dreams show how primal emotions of love, hate and fear, play out in our sleep.
Evolution developed a secondary brain that could reason and develop feelings to guide reason in humans. Damasio describes feelings as a superposition of body and cognition. 39 What does this mean?
I did a second thought experiment one day after reading Descartes Errors by Damasio. I looked out my car window and described what I saw: trees, grass and squirrels. But this was not true. All I saw was individual things to which we give names.
This individual thing I call a tree is different from the individual thing I call a tree elsewhere. One we give the species name, ‘maple,’ to and the other, ‘pine.’ But even every individual tree I call ‘maple’ has a different form than the other maples in the park. This is what Spinoza is getting at when he used, ‘singular things’ for how our brains work and come to know X.
Trees, rocks, dogs, Jim and Ruth, do not exist. Only individual things which are forcing their way into our consciousness (existence) and saying why they are a certain kind of thing, (essence) exist.
Language is a bridge that crosses the gap between knowing and expression, that is, as we used to say in construction, ‘jerry-rigged,’ i.e. put together shabbily. Universals and generalities are the source of this poor work.
That language is an art form like painting or sculpture, instead of linear thinking that produces logic, is Giles Deleuze’s contribution to the study of reason. (This is why we use metaphor). He found this essence of expressionism in Spinoza’s writings. 40
Deleuze said: “…Christ was incarnated once in order to show…the possibility of the impossible. Thus Spinoza is the Christ of philosophers and the greatest philosophers are hardly more than apostles who distance themselves from or draw near to this mystery.” 41
He wrote two books on Spinoza. In What Is Philosophy? Deleuze and Felix Guattari take reason to its limit: the ‘concept.’ I have some reservations on whether Deleuze’s friendship with Guattari was a blessing or a curse. Written in 1991, What Is Philosophy? seems to be a backward step in the understanding of the younger Deleuze who published Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza, in 1968 and Spinoza: Practical Philosophy in 1970. 42
The second book is like the U.S. Golf Association’s handbook, The Rules of Golf, for philosophers.43 In this book Deleuze outlines the course on which Spinoza played life and the rules he gave for playing it. Unlike the USGA’s handbook, however, Deleuze’s rule book of Spinoza is not orthodox. Deleuze’s handbook on Spinoza is most like one Moe Norman would have written on golf.
Orthodox interpretations of how Spinoza played life are written by philosophers like Jonathan Bennett, Margaret D. Wilson, Don Garrett, Edwin Curley and others.44 Orthodox handbooks are written by philosophers who examine how Spinoza was influenced by the philosophers of his day, especially Descartes and Hobbes. 45
My suggestion that Euclid was Spinoza’s mentor is not orthodox. Deleuze’s approach to Spinoza is not to consider who influenced him but rather who he influenced, especially Nietzsche. His first word in Spinoza: Practical Philosophy is ‘Nietzsche.’46
In this respect Deleuze is positioned in European philosophy and its expression of modernity. 47 Scratch most modern European philosophers and they bleed Nietzsche. Scratch most anglo philosophers and they will bleed Descartes, Kant, Hume or Wittgenstein.
I am taking more time in discussing this pro in my life than the others, for two reasons. First, the disposition of my brain is towards logical/mathematical explanations of how the universe gives us energy in extension and thought. My work is focused on this study. What Is Philosophy is not. It demonstrates the abstract lie of philosophers.
Second, when I accompanied my wife to a bookstore to hear a friend read from her new book, as usual I surveyed the bookshelves of interest to me. First science, then philosophy. What Is Philosophy? was hidden in the middle of new wave idiocy.
I looked in its index for Spinoza and found the passage which I quoted above. I was intrigued. I bought the book, brought it home and read it. Other than the five references, I could not find Spinoza in the book. Discovering Deleuze had written two books on Spinoza, I then ordered them.
When I got Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, I thumbed through it, looking for topics of interest. To my surprise, here was a philosopher discussing at length what I consider to be Euclid’s Common Notions.
Only it was not, (or at least at that time I did not think it was. I have somewhat reconsidered). Deleuze thinks the idea of common notions is a new invention of Spinoza’s in his evolution in the Ethics. Disagreeing, I put the book down in disgust! Deleuze appeared to have no notion of Euclid’s influence in Spinoza’s life.
But what is not taught can sometimes be caught. Whether he knew it or not, Deleuze was retracing Spinoza’s steps in Euclid’s, “a point is that which has no part,” or eternity. The plane and the common notions play an important part in Deleuze’s handbook of rules as they did for Spinoza.
In spite of my initial two-fold negative reaction to Deleuze’s work, his handbook on rules to understand Spinoza is leading me reluctantly beyond seeking just the logic of extension and thinking to joy and vision of eternity.48 Deleuze has helped me see that in the Ethics, Spinoza did a shift from ‘how we know,’ in his earlier works to ‘what we know.’ This knowledge gives us joy and a vision of eternity.
In other words, Spinoza has moved on with Euclid’s common notions and what Deleuze calls the ‘plane of immanence,’ to the eternity of ‘a point is that which has no point.’
In the ‘Beatitudes’ chapter of Expression in Philosophy: Spinoza, Deleuze explores this joy and vision of Spinoza. However, did Deleuze lose this vision and joy under the influence of Guattari or was it because, unlike Spinoza, he chose not to be free but enslaved to academia?
A few years after writing, What Is Philosophy, Deleuze committed suicide. He broke the rules of his handbook. As Spinoza says: “…Those who kill themselves are weak-minded and completely conquered by external causes contrary to their natures.”49
In, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, Deleuze describes this failure to know ourselves adequately: “In the end, one is unable to encounter oneself.” 50 However, Deleuze later may give himself an out. In discussing how we poison ourselves and others, Deleuze says suicide is an ‘extreme case,’ 51 In a fascinating footnote, Deleuze says however there are cases when our bodies (including brains), are, for all practical purposes, dead and that Spinoza, like himself, believes it is wrong, “…to keep alive artificially, bodies that are ‘naturally dead.’ 52
Maybe Deleuze aided the natural process when medicine was invoking artificial prescriptions on his life. Very interesting quagmire!
We come back to the abstract lie, the chasm between knowing and expression. Spinoza only believes in the existence and essence of individual things. What does this have to do with feelings? Everything. Spinoza says: “…we never affirm or deny something of the thing; it is the thing itself that affirms or denies something of itself in us.” 53
Emotions are a conflict between the true ideas of individual things that command our attention and what the thing we call our body is demanding. When the things win the energy within enables us to do work (reason).
When our body wins, with its primal urges, entropy sits in and the spread of ignorance we call (or what Spinoza called, inadequate thinking), results. Every morning when I get up, I have to put up with a dysfunctional bowel, chronic pain in my legs, a sinus condition that causes coughing, a runny nose and a stress disease that blows my adrenaline reactions all out of proportion. I am not a happy man, sitting in my car.
When I did my first thought experiment, it was this entropy in my thinking caused by my body that I observed. It produced what communication theorists call ‘noise’ rather than my own work of reason. My grasp of individual things was distorted.
But feelings are a superposition between cognition and our body. On my second thought experiment, when I looked out of my car window, I thought I saw the things we call trees, grass and squirrels but that picture was incomplete. I saw the windows and part of the body of the individual thing I call my ‘car.’
But that was also incomplete. Upon reflection I realized I was looking out of my body but seeing part of it, then looking out of the car window, seeing part of the car and finally focusing on individual things.
Feelings are the driver of the person looking out of the car at individual things. Feelings can drive you into the rut of emotions, (the hitting impulse) or into the work of reason and the path of understanding. My thought experiment now finished, I had to discover how my feelings could do the latter.
But if the disposition of my brain was leading me to imaginations guided by my primal emotions, what could I do? I love researching the ideas of others. When I deal with ideas, I feel I am in harmony with the universe. Then the things of life intrude and spoil the feeling.
Just this week I realized I have always been an idealist (the disposition of my brain), which keeps getting irritated with X for bringing unwanted things into my life. I used to wake up angry with X and swear at X’s things all day. How ironic, when the only way you can know X is through singular things!
Most days, now, except for the occasional adrenaline outburst, I am happy. But I am getting ahead of myself. I decided to bring the ideas into my car and fill up my brain with them. When I read Spinoza, Boole, Damasio, Euclid, Aristotle or even Wittgenstein and discovered a significant thread of scarlet, I wrote the discovery on a 3 by 3 card. (I got a pack at the stationary store).
I had an old floppy disc holder with a plastic front and two pockets which hold my note cards perfectly. At first I had just a few maxims which Spinoza suggest using in Part 5 of his Ethics.54 Maxims, like: “The supreme good is the knowledge of the union which the mind has with the whole of nature.” 55
As this pile of ideas grew, I divided them into three categories: Maxims to visit every day. Maxims like several comments by Spinoza on: Understanding, the eyes of the mind, Reason as our own work, Euclid’s common notions and so forth.
I have another pile which focus on Spinoza’s theory of knowledge and a pile focusing on what William James called, “Spinoza’s healthy-mindedness.”56 I try to go through this last pack at least once a week and draw on them whenever my thinking leads me to them.
Now when I get to Artillery Park and my wife goes in to swim, I bring out my ‘idea holder’ and place it on my steering wheel. Then I light up my pipe. Spinoza had a pipe. He was also fascinated with spiders as I am, but that’s another story.
Anti-smoker do-gooders do not realize the benefits pipe smoking contributes in combating stress disease. Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are also few ex-smoker in them. But there is another benefit to the pipe that our predecessors on the American continent knew. Smoking a pipe is part of a meditation on the Blessing Way.
Capitalism, as it did with most true ideas, turned the blessing into the curse of cigarettes which can be thrown away without adding one iota of healthy-mindedness to the process. With my pipe in one hand and my stainless steel coffee mug in the other, I begin to meditate on the maxims. I do this whether it is 30o Celsius or -30o Celsius. I just need the curse of old age for the latter: long johns plus an insulated shirt under a sweat shirt, coat on top, gloves and a warm hat.
Reading Seth Lloyd’s Programming the Universe, a quote stood out in scarlet: “…entanglement is responsible for the generation of information in the universe.”57 Entanglement is a situation in our quantum supposedly ‘weird’ universe where a thing can be both a wave and a particle, both here and there, both yes and no, both one and zero, at the same time.
Euclid’s common notion of equality dispels the weird description. Things are equal, whether they add, subtract or coincide with equal things. As Euclid said: “The Laws of Nature are the mathematical thoughts of God” (X) and “The whole is greater than the part.” 58
I believe the work we have been given with reason and understanding is to untangle that which is entangled in the universe. As Wittgenstein said: “Now we know how to go on.”59 We are sharing information with X, (not meaning to be mystical here – it is the fault of language.)
Here’s how I see it works, following the lessons of my pros. Everything in the universe sends and receives information (why Spinoza says everything in the universe has a ‘soul). 60 Thinking is processing information through logic gates of one and zero. Unprocessed information is in a quantum state at both 1 and 0. The operations, ‘yes’ (add one) and ‘no,’ (subtract one), are generated by equality as the fabric of the universe.
X is the operative and generative cause in everything that exists. It does this through what we call logic gates or 1 and 0. Nature (X) generates life as an infinite YES. This is the essence we find in X.
While I was writing this, police made a shocking discovery. A well-respected commander of a local military base was discovered to be a serial killer of young women. I wrote a piece for a national newspaper. My wife edited the original in order to make it suitable for a newspaper format. I include the more expanded original here as an extreme example of the hitting impulse.
THE PRIMITIVE BRAIN AND COLONEL WILLIAMS
We were all shocked. How could an intelligent person with the responsible position of being a base commander in the military, commit such a unnatural act of murdering at least two women and assaulting many others?
We are asking the wrong questions about Colonel Russell William’s actions. His actions were not unnatural but unreasonable. Moreover, he seems disconnected from normal human feelings. The anatomy of the brain leads us to redefinition of the question.
Our brain has two parts: the primitive animal brain that reacts to its environment in order to survive and the second part that evolved from reaction to the capability of reason and human feelings.
The primitive brain reacts in fight or flight and love or hate. All of emotion came from these basic reactions. Like all animals, our basic reactions are accompanied by the flow of adrenaline from the adrenal gland. In the primitive brain, adrenaline kickstarts us to action.
Male animals with a primitive brain are naturally, to use an emotional word, sexual predators. To be more precise, when an ovary scent reaches their brains, they are ready for action.
My parents once bought a house that came with an unneutered female dog which was a selling point for my sister and myself. When Freckles reached the ovary stage, we had dogs from all over town in our yard. My sister and I made out with lost dog rewards.
All emotions come from the primitive brain: anger, hate, envy, lust and yes, even love. The reactions of the primitive brain enabled our ancestors to survive and evolve but in our complex society, they are often an anachronism. Fighting can get you jail.
When our brains evolved to include reason and feeling we no longer needed to just react to situations in our environment. We could get information and figure out what was the best path of action. The more and better the information, the better the course of action.
But reason alone lacks heart. Evolution gave us feelings as the referee between thinking and bodily reactions. Scientist call this a ‘superposition.’ Feelings can betray us if they are stuck in the rule of primitive reactions but they can also lead reason to the higher truth we call understanding or ‘now I know how to go on,’ (Wittgenstein)
So what happened to create Colonel Russell Williams actions? We cannot know and maybe no one will ever know what caused them but we do know this much: they are not a result of reason and feelings.
His actions demonstrate the control of his primitive brain which was probably induced by an adrenaline overdose. This is not an excuse, just an explanation. The emotions of the primitive brain can hijack reason. Much of what passes for reason today is just this kind of entropy.
Entropy is the waste product of work. The more information in a system, the greater the spread of ignorance caused by entropy. We live in an age that has more information than any age before us. While there are great blessings in this spread of information, we have also increased the possibilities of hijacked reason.
Here are examples relevant to Colonel Russell William’s actions. Media supplies the average person with more pheromone-inducing stimulation every day than what a whole population of a city would have experienced in past ages.
Television and the internet have given individuals stimulation that induces primitive reactions of violence, rape and lust in a measure that never existed in earlier ages although the reactions of course, existed.
Colonel Russell William’s actions are a demonstration of this spread of ignorance that accompanies the blessing of the exponential growth of information in our age. The primitive brain is given more stimulation and encouragement than at any other time in history.
There are other factors that could also be considered. For instance, morality. In prior ages, religion held more sway than it does today and the fear of eternal punishment may have prevented some individuals from like actions as the colonels. But this assumption is not a given.
Then there is the flow of adrenaline. Some jobs tend to an access of adrenaline flow. Being a soldier is one. Rape and pillage have never been uncommon in warfare. But our age is so hyper-stressed that stress disease seems to be the norm rather than the exception.
In 1991 when I was a prison guard, a prisoner stabbed me. I know what an adrenaline flow does. I live with it every day. My primitive brain wanted me to kill myself and I almost did.
I rediscovered reasons and feelings power to lead me to understanding in the corpus of the work of the seventeenth century pilosopher Baruch de Spinoza, Part 5 of the Ethics, gives a step by step way to defeat the emotions of the primitive brain and find wholeness in what AA calls a ‘higher power,’ or Einstein called: “The whole of nature in its beauty.” This is why evolution gave us reason and feeling.
Rather than hate Colonel Williams and want him punished, I have a wish for him. That he can find reason and feeling during his time in prison. However, having spent seventeen years in prison as a guard, I know this will be difficult. Prisons are the waste bins of society’s primitive emotions and actions.
The Natural Swing
Moe Norman said that when he decided to play golf, he went to a carpenter to see how he held a hammer. Then he went to a baseball player to see how he held a bat and a tennis player his racket. 61 Knowing how to go on (understand) in golf, like life, begins with getting a good grip on the things that make it up.
For a carpenter, it is knowing how to hold a hammer to pound a nail in accurately. (It is not as easy as it seems). In golf, duffers grip the club tightly with the tension of the hitting impulse running up their arms into their shoulders and the rest of the body. We can say they have, ‘lost their grip.’
When our lives are controlled by emotions, we have lost our grip. So how do we get a good grip on life? At the end of Part 4 of the Ethics, ‘of Human Bondage,’ Spinoza sums up the good grip of “…the right way of living…”62
Spinoza says playing life adequately depends on being connected (gripped) to the power or energy that the mind draws on to do its work: reason guided by an understanding of God/Nature (X) inside (immanent) of us. This is how the mind gets adequate ideas. 63
But our ‘desire and strivings’ can lead to another source: “…power’ of things which are outside us.” 64 The mind conceives these things, “inadequately:” gripping the power inside us produces actions. Losing our grip to outside things yields, passions.” “For the former always indicate our power whereas the latter indicate our lack of power and mutilated knowledge.” 65
Actions are good but passions are caught in that quantum superposition of both good and evil. Remember, good and evil, like all judgments we make are only beings of reason for Spinoza. Nature (X) is value-free.
To play life we need:
“…to perfect, as far as we can, our intellect or reason. In this one thing consists man’s [and woman’s] highest happiness or blessedness…”66 “But perfecting the intellect is nothing but understanding God (X), his [its] attributes and his [its] actions, which follow from the necessity of his [its] nature.”67
“So the ultimate end of the man [or woman] who is led by reason, that is, his [her] highest desire, by which he [she] strives to moderate all the others, is that by which he [she] is led to conceive adequately both himself [herself] and all things which can fall under his [her] understanding.
No life, then, is rational without understanding and things are good only insofar as they aid man [woman] to enjoy the life of the mind which is defined by understanding.”68
I have left Spinoza speak at length here to clear up any misconception that he might be a ‘rationalist.’ We should clear up another misconception here, that playing life can only be done by our experts in thinking, academics or scholars. Academics might think this is so but I suspect the game academics play is more often mutilated knowledge than real work. Scholars do real work.
Sometimes I think even Spinoza suffered somewhat from an intellectual’s elitist viewpoint but I can forgive him because his work leads beyond that inadequate conception. Understanding is not the result of a Mensa test but the internal relation of an individual to the singular things that speak to him or her out of nature and how this individual relates to X that produced the information. 69
Every individual has been given work to do, whether they are mechanics, housewives or philosophers. It takes as much intellectual work to fix a car, raise children or write an essay on Spinoza. When I was a prison guard, along with my fellow guards, I did my work of security with pleasure and enjoyment at first.
Then the correctional service told us security was not important and that we must become social workers. This mutilated knowledge produced the angst and anger that became part of my stress disease.
As long as an individual works with reason guided by understanding in the way we call, ‘ethical,’ we know theirs is genuine action. I.Q. is not a factor. Each day when I sit watching the park and meditating on X, one of its joyful creatures comes singing and dancing through the park.
In the old days, such an individual was called, ‘retarded,’ but now the term is ‘special.’ He is certainly special to me. Each day I anticipate the joyfulness he exhibits. With this misunderstanding cleared up, for those who will hear, let us return to Spinoza’s adequate ideas and place them in a scientific context.
Following Seth Lloyd’s discussion of energy and entropy in Programming the Universe,70
we can compare Spinoza’s adequate ideas with energy and inadequate ideas with entropy. This is how Lloyd describes energy:
“…energy is the ability to do work. Energy makes physical systems do things. Famously, energy has the feature of being conserved; it can take different forms – heat, work, electrical energy, mechanical energy – but it is never lost. This is known as the first law of thermodynamics.
But if energy is conserved and if the universe started from nothing [note: Euclid, Spinoza, Einstein and I disagree with that assumption] – then, where does the energy come from? Physics provides an explanation.
Quantum mechanics describes energy in terms of quantum fields, a kind of underlying fabric of the universe, whose weave makes up the elementary particles – photons, electrons, quarks. The energy we see around us, then, in the form of earth, stars, light, heat, was drawn out of the underlying quantum fields by the expansion of our universe.” 71
Elsewhere I have described the quantum fields Lloyd describes here as, ‘fabric of equality.’ Our descriptions are not incompatible as he is describing physically what I was describing logically.
“Energy makes physical systems do things. Information tells them what to do.
If we could look at matter at the atomic scale, we would see atoms dancing and jiggling
every which way at random. The energy that drives this random atomic dance is called
heat and the information that determines the step of this dance is called entropy.
More simply, entropy is the information required to specify the random motions
of atoms and molecules – motions too small for us to see. Entropy is the information
contained in a physical system that is invisible to us. 72 [Italics mine]
“…The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of the universe as a whole does not decrease…”73
Lloyd elsewhere says: “…entropy, which is just invisible information is also a
measure of ignorance.”74 He says: “Energy with a small amount of entropy is useful (free)
energy; energy with lots of entropy is useless.”75
This leads to the “…fundamental fact of nature…” which Lloyd calls: “…the speed of
ignorance. Unknown bits infect known bits.” 76
In discussing Lloyd’s discussion of energy and entropy, I should mention that his book had mixed reviews. One philosopher is especially critical about how Lloyd discusses the concept of entropy. 77 I found that Lloyd’s publishers made him exclude a chapter that would have cleared up much of the misconceptions that were genuine. (Some were just ad hominum).
My wife found on the internet, the excluded chapter which the publishers felt was too technical: Chapter 7, Director’s Cut: It From Qubit. Hopefully, this chapter will be reunited with the book someday. While very technical, it is masterful and clears up some seeming gaps in Lloyd’s presentation. 78
Lloyd describes scientifically as energy and entropy, what Spinoza describes as adequate ideas, (our work) and inadequate ideas (passion which arises from things that affect us). Spinoza was criticized as saying God (X) creates both good and evil. Spinoza was aware that nature (x) generates (he said creation never happened) everything whether it is energy (good work) or entropy (useless passions).
Entropy frames energy, just as inadequate ideas make adequate ideas stand out significantly. This is speculation but dark matter and dark energy may be the entropy that gives the work we call our universe, its shape.
Human ideas have a tendency to degenerate into entropy. We call this occurrence, ‘ideology.’ Academia often is the bulwark of ideology. Creative thinkers have to storm this barrier with new ideas, (work). There is often strong resistance but when new ideas find their way inside the process, entropy begins again. 79
In this respect, I find Lloyd’s observation on the ‘spread of ignorance’ caused by entropy, very interesting. Here is only a hypothesis: We live in an age that has more spread of ignorance than any age previous. It is a fact that our age has more technology and information than any age that preceded it.
Consequently, entropy is more widespread than it has ever been before. The electronic age (media, computers, internet and so forth), has spread information and ignorance, world-wide.
Honore Balzac may have had an intimation of this result when he identified the rise of media and a political class of lawyers as, ‘Lost Illusions.’ 80 Today, while waiting for my wife and meditating on X, it was -18 below Celsius (0 Fahrenheit). It was cold in the car. Half way through the wait, I turned the car back on and cranked up the heater.
It took a lot of energy to get the car warm. Entropy dispensed much pollution into the air. Today, scientists and scholars are producing ideas and actions but entropy has produced a warming effect that affects more than the physical environment. The more we crank up the heat of adequate ideas and actions, the more pollution seems to affect our culture.
So what do we do? Give up in dismay and cynicism? Spinoza says we have to get a grip on life by sharing our work with like-minded individuals. He said his purpose in life (and ours) is to:
1) Taste union with God (X)
2) Produce true ideas in myself
3) Make all these things known to my neighbours 81
We live in a critical age but as Spinoza said: “…those who know how to find fault with men, to castigate vices rather than teach virtue and so to break men’s minds rather than strengthen them, they are burdensome both to themselves and to others.” 82
Elsewhere he says these individuals “spew forth vomit.” 83 I don’t know about you, but often when I watch tv or read the newspapers, I feel I need a bath.
In the rest of the Appendix to Part IV, Spinoza talks abut living in “harmony” with our fellow humans: “the things which begat harmony are those which are related to justice, fairness and being honourable.”84
He discusses the passions which prevent having adequate ideas (energy) and produce harmful passions (entropy):
“But human power is very limited and infinitely surpassed by the power of external causes. So we do not have an absolute power to adapt things outside us to our use. Nevertheless, we shall bear calmly those things which happen to us contrary to what the principles of our advantage demand, if we are conscious that we have done our duty, that the power we have could not have extended itself to the point where we could have avoided these things and that we are a part of the whole of Nature whose order we follow.
If we understand this clearly and distinctly, that part of us which is defined by understanding, that it, the better part of us, will be entirely satisfied with this and will strive to persevere in that satisfaction, for insofar as we understand, we can want nothing except what is necessary, nor absolutely be satisfied with anything except what is true. Hence, insofar as we understand these things rightly, the striving of the better part of us agrees with the order – (Shirley translates ‘order’ as ‘harmony’) –of the whole of Nature.” 85
Several years ago when my wife lay in the hospital with a strangled bowel and almost died, all I could do was grip this passage over and over. Needless to say, it is in the ‘everyday’ part of my idea cards. It is a chief part of my tuning up to meet the exigencies of life. I connect the quote from Spinoza that began the Appendix to Part IV with this quote which ended it. 86 These passages sum up how we play life and what a natural swing is.
Having laid out his course for playing life, Spinoza then shows us how to do it in Part V of the Ethics: “I pass finally to the remaining part of ethics which concerns the means or way leading to freedom. Here, then, I shall treat of the power of reason, showing what it can against the effects and what freedom of mind or blessedness is.” 87
Spinoza states he is not discussing logic (how the intellect must be perfected), or medicine (how the body must be cared for) but the “…power of the mind or reason.” 88
He gives us lessons on how to swing reason, the club nature gave us, so we won’t shank our thinking when we land in the roughs and out of the bounds of life. (affects).
Spinoza gives us rules for staying on the fairway: “…the power of the mind over the affects consists:
I) “In the knowledge itself of the affect
II) In the fact that it separates the affects from the thought of an external cause which we imagine confusedly.
III) In the time by which the affections related to things we understand surpass those related to things we conceive confusedly or in a mutilated way.
IV) In the multiplicity of causes by which affections related to common properties or to God, are encouraged.
V) Finally in the order by which the mind can order its affects and connect them to one another. “89
Spinoza defines these rules in the first part of Part Five of the Ethics. 90 In trying to come to grips with his discussion, I have often wished he had followed how he said Euclid wrote:
“Euclid, who wrote only about things which were quite simple and most intelligible is easily explained by anyone in any language…nor is it necessary to know the life, concerns and customs of the author nor in what language, to whom and when he wrote nor the fate of his book nor its various readings nor how nor by whose deliberation it was accepted. 91
But if every thinker including Spinoza had written like Euclid, we wouldn’t have needed philosophers. If we do! I justify my existence by realizing there was only one architect of the course of life (Euclid). Every thinker that has followed him has done work (energy) to clear up misconceptions (entropy) that have arisen in playing life.
Philosophers are all like golf pros, trying to find the best swing to play the game of life. Spinoza might be, as Deleuze suggests, the Christ of philosophers but he never achieved the motto of ‘clear and distinct’ which he borrowed from Descartes.
So he is not the Christ of the everyday man and woman. They do not know he even existed. When I consider all my fellow sufferers of stress disease, this makes me sad. But Spinoza says this is a useless emotion. We need rather to do something.
My Dale Carnegie attempt to paraphrase Spinoza’s rules for playing life were an attempt to meet this need. I wanted to show my fellow prison guards how Spinoza is helping me keep on the fairways of life.
Of course, there is a big difference between getting lessons on how to play and playing. Duffer emotions from the primitive brain (anger, hate, envy, lust and so forth), have controlled our thinking for a long time. It takes a lot of practice to overcome bad habits of the hitting impulse, (inadequate ideas).
But if we practice the natural swing of adequate ideas, we will stay in the fairway more than in the rough even though much of the hitting impulse still persists. 92 As Spinoza shows in the second half of Part Five in the Ethics, reason only gives us the rules for playing in the fairway
whereas understanding which comes from X gives us the freedom of a natural swing.
We have to practice reason however to gain understanding (reason is the staircase to understanding). So let’s see how Spinoza gives us instructions on a reasonable way to deal with emotions and the things in our life that cause them.
1) Identify the emotion. This is relatively simple although we often want to avoid this step by excusing ourselves and blaming our circumstances: ‘My wife makes me mad when she won’t listen to my side.’
Spinoza does an exhaustive job of listing the bad emotions (affects) in Part Three of the
Ethics (some he lists are surprising, like repentance or hope). But we really do not need his list. We know what we are doing but would rather wallow in these emotions than be reasonable; ‘Okay, so I’m angry but it’s my wife’s fault.’ Spinoza says we judge all things from our own perspective.
In the second lesson, Spinoza cuts all the excuses from under our feet by telling us to
separate the emotion from external causes:
2) Stop blaming your wife, your jobs, politics or anything else. ‘I’m angry and that’s it. I cannot put the blame for my anger on an external cause. Why am I wallowing in anger?
The third lesson is an example where I wish Spinoza had written as clearly as Euclid.
It requires an understanding of Spinoza’s work which he had but we don’t. So I have simplified it:
3) Separate emotions from ‘Not Dones’ and ‘Fear of the Future,’ whether they are ours or imagined wrongs done by external sources:
a) Would have done
b) Could have done
c) Should have done
d) Ought to have done.
Adequate thinking can free us from the tyranny of time. We live with guilt from the past
and with fear of the future when emotions from inadequate ideas control our thinking.
March 4, 2010. Just two days until I am seventy-two. Relatively-speaking it seems I have
lived a long time but it is only a blink in time and space. After all, time and space as we understand them, are over fourteen billion years old. We spend so little time crawling on the surface of the earth.
Got my birthday gift early. Last week, while meditating on the first part of Part Five of the Ethics, I discovered the key to unlocking Spinoza’s work and the natural swing: “…the power of the mind is defined only by understanding…”93
As the pages preceding today’s writing demonstrate, I was interpreting the first part of Part Five of the Ethics as rules to follow to overcome the negative affects of emotions and the circumstances that cause them. 94 This was inadequate.
Spinoza is not giving us rules but instead showing us how the power of the mind works to cure our intellect of inadequate thinking. This is the promise with which he began the Emendation and fulfills in part Five of the Ethics. Understanding is this power. Reason gives us rules for thinking and understanding empowers reason.
But what is understanding? From the Emendation on, Spinoza has teased us with glimpses of this power that never really helped us know how to plug it in. Even here in this section of Part Five, we are still left with a vague concept.
To explain this vagueness requires a knowledge of Descartes work in which I am sorely lacking. While Spinoza’s mentor in belief was Euclid, his mentor in method was Descartes. If I live long enough, I intend to read and reread and meditate on Descartes’ method.
Apparently Spinoza took Euclid’s demonstrations at face value but followed Descartes’ methodology in unfolding them in his philosophy. this is why, I suspect, Euclid’s influence on Spinoza is generally overlooked by philosophers, even though the corpus of Spinoza’s work calls out for this inference. Spinoza was an ancient Greek, masquerading as a Cartesian. This is why Cartesians so hated him.
So Spinoza ends where Euclid began, with ‘Eternity.’
“We conceive things as actual in two ways: either insofar as we conceive them to exist in relation to a certain time and place or insofar as we conceive them to be contained in God and to follow from the necessity of the divine nature. But the things we conceive in this second way as true or real, we conceive under a species of eternity…”95
Then he says: “Eternity is the very essence of God.”96
Spinoza finally arrives at Euclid’s; “A point is that which has no part.” 97 and the
‘common notions’ as the axioms of thinking which enable us to understand or express our relation to eternity. The notions of ‘equal’ and ‘whole/part, define what it means to understand “under a species of eternity.” This is the foundation of understanding.
To understand how Euclid begins with eternity and Spinoza ends with eternity, we have
to ask what we mean by ‘eternity.’ Spinoza says, “…eternity can neither be defined by time nor have any relation to time.” 98
What kind of concept do we have that has that peculiar relation to time? 98 NOW. We live in ‘now’ but it can never be caught in the web of time. As soon as I wrote these words, they were in the past and the words I will write are in the future until as I write them they pop into the past.
Eternity is Now. Now is the chasm between what we know and what we can express in language, with which I began this chapter. Now is a point that has no part. In time and space we live in Now which hangs between past and future but never is either one. We know our bodies will die but as Spinoza says, now or eternity is contained in X which has no relation to time.
So we are eternal at the point of Now. I believe there are mystics and certain Asian religions which have come to this conclusion, as did Spinoza, but not being well-versed in their beliefs, I shall not pursue them.
There is an area of thought, however, to which we may turn for some confirmation of Spinoza’s ideas: modern science. Modern information theory has returned to Euclid’s common notions and Boole’s laws of thought to explain the universe. Everything in the universe sends and receives information.
This information is generated through the process of discerning what is equal and can be added into a whole or subtracted into parts. Everything in the universe (thought and matter), evolved out of yes (1) and no (0) or both yes and no (quantum super position). Information theorists take 1 and 0 and combine them to make ‘or’ and ‘copy’ and ‘not,’ to make what they call, ‘logic gates.’ 99 They believe the universe is logical.
Seth Lloyd tends to believe logic gates fluctuated out of nothing, 100 like Euclid, Einstein and Spinoza. I believe this does not make sense and confines Lloyd to a belief in a finite ‘It from Quitbit.’ We need the infinite idea we call God, (X).
As Edmund Curley says: “Spinoza’s God is an ultimate principle of explanation.” 106 To say the universe is logical and to say it popped out of nothing is to give no explanation at all but only beg the question. In his Spinoza Reader, Curley reconstructs an argument for X (God), rather than nothing based on “…doctrines common to Descartes and Spinoza…:”
1) “My mind is a thinking thing but it is finite and thus cannot be a thinking substance since every substance is infinite.
2) Since my mind cannot be a substance and everything that exists must be either a substance or a mode, my mind must be a mode of thought. There is, then, at least one mode of thought.
3) If there is a mode of thought, there must be a thinking substance.
4) There must be a thinking substance and since there is only one substance, God, God is a thinking substance. “ 102
In other words, we and the universe cannot be logical unless there is a foundation for it
or X. Of course there are individuals who deny the universe is logical and say everything is meaningless but this is only like a deaf and dumb person uttering a profanity which is only a sound with no substance.
Now that we have cleared up this little difference between Spinoza and Lloyd, the rest of this discussion on how the universe and ourselves send and receive information is similar to Spinoza’s discussion on the two ways we conceive things as actual.103 While believing in nothing. Lloyd demonstrates how a thinking substance generates the universe and ourselves.
Either we perceive and act towards things as if they are logical or we do not. Either we do the work energy has given us to do or we spin our wheels with inadequate thinking or entropy. Much of what I perceive in our present society is the latter.
March 10, 2010. Two days ago I watched a program called The Quantum Tamer, done by the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. 104 Moses had a burning bush which revealed X to him. This was mine.
The show was an excellent survey of quantum theory from its inception to NOW. I had missed the burning bush on my first viewing. This time it flamed in significance: “INFORMATION IS PHYSICAL!” As the different physicists explained, there have been two revolutions in understanding quantum theory.
The first began with Planck’s discovery of quanta (assembly of singular things) and ends with Schroder’s discovery that individual things are both things and waves. A cat inside a box with a poison gas neutron dispenser triggered, is both alive and dead until we make an observation. Thus the weirdness in this theory.
The famous two slit experiment proved the unobserved parts of the universe are in a state of both 1 and 0, (superposition) until light interferes with superposition and enables us to observe these parts.
The unobserved parts of the universe are quantum or quibits (both 1 and 0) but when we observe them which needs light and is constrained by the speed of light, they becomes things or bits. We call this classical theory.
Physicists argued over this weird phenomenon of quantum theory but their experiments enabled them to observe the burning bush: all information is physical. Abstract theory became practical and the physicality of information produced lasers and the physical information system we call computers will soon be joined by the exponentially more powerful system of quantum computers.
Why is this revolution in quantum theory a burning bush? Because I finally understood what Spinoza meant when he said mind and body, extension and thought are only two ways of understanding the same thing.
X (God) is the physical superposition of individual things and thinking and we use reason to separate them for observation purposes. This is why Spinoza said: “The more we understand singular things, the more we understand God.” 105
This superposition resides in eternity or NOW as a point that has no part. Because our brains are quantum rather than digital, we go through the process of entanglement to separate things through logic gates into our memory and they become bits.
In the Emendation, Spinoza says the supreme good is the knowledge of the union of the mind with the whole of nature, (X) but by the Treatise on religion and politics, knowledge has been raised to the level of the physical or “taste union with God”106
This is the power of the intellect over the passions: understanding enables us to physically taste our union with X (God) in every single thing light enables us to observe. We are not blessed because we avoid passions but avoid passions because we are blessed.107
It is interesting to observe that in the Hebrew Bible the earth is ‘without form and void,’ until God said ‘Let there be light and there was light.’ 108 In the Bible, Christ is identified as the ‘light.’ ‘And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.’ 109
That Spinoza had an affinity with the Hebrew and Christian Bibles is not surprising but that modern quantum theorists are expressing similar ideas are an indication that we can observe superposition and entanglement in the ideas of humans throughout history. Tasting union with X (God) is the essence of North American Aboriginal ideas of God. (X).110
In the western world, we become so occupied with the part of X we call human thought, that we identified God (X) with ourselves and lost the taste of eternity and the parts become more important than the whole.
Fortunately, we have science to remind us of our tenuous grasp on infinity. Spinoza showed us that the superposition between thoughts and things that resides in NOW or eternity is what we mean by the symbol, God, or the reality we conceive which enables us to have a natural swing in life.
March 18, 2010
In the past few weeks I have been meditating on the second part of Part Five of the Ethics. On March 16th, I tried to understand what Spinoza means by “species of eternity.”
“But because it is the nature of reason to conceive things under a species of eternity (by IIP44c2) and it also pertains to the nature of the mind to conceive the body’s essence under a species of eternity (by P33), and beyond these two, nothing else pertains to the mind’s essence…”111
I went back to Part II of the Ethics, Proposition 44, Corollary 2 as Spinoza instructed.112 From Proposition 36 to Proposition 40, Spinoza discusses how common notions are the “foundation of our reasoning.” 113
These are the same common notions which I suggest in this chapter, Spinoza found in Euclid, which formed the core of his beliefs. In Proposition 40, Scholaium 2, Spinoza describes his last formulation of the three kinds of knowledge:
1) “Knowledge from random experience” and “signs” or “knowledge of the first kind, opinion or of imagination.” 114
2) “Common notions and adequate ideas” which give us “…reason and the second kind of knowledge.” 115
3) The third kind of knowledge,” intuitive knowledge.” 116 White and Stirling translate these words as “intuitive science.” 117 Actually both translations are appropriate (although Curley’s is the most accurate), since science and intuition are closely aligned in both Descartes and Spinoza.
In Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Descartes makes intuition: “…the undoubting conception of an unclouded and attentive mind and springs from the light of reason alone…” 118 Intuition is the natural light that leads science to its discoveries.
Wittgenstein says: “intuition is an unnecessary shuffle.” 119 But that was in the 20th century. Descartes and Spinoza were writing in the 17th century. Much of Spinoza’s methodological language, such as adequate ideas, is also found in Descarte’s Rules. (I am beginning my study of Descartes).
While the Rules may be Descartes earliest work (possibly 1628), it was not published until 1701. Spinoza may not have been familiar with it. 120 However, as I continue my reading of Descartes, I’m sure I’ll find the sources of Spinoza’s use of his methodological language in works like the Method.121
While Spinoza draws on Descartes for his methodological language, it is instructive that when he uses an example of his three kinds of knowledge, it is drawn from “the common property of proportionals” from “…P19 in Book VII of Euclid…”122
I honestly cannot understand how scholars have missed Euclid’s influence on Spinoza.
While Spinoza draws on Descartes for methodological language, he unites common notions, adequate ideas and intuitive knowledge in Euclid’s, “A point is that which has no part as a species of eternity.
After this study I came up with another formulation of Spinoza’s God to match my May 9, 2008 definition: “God is the operative and generative cause of everything that exists.” What Spinoza calls God is the force or logical pattern of existence which is manifest eternally in thought and things.
In this definition the word, ‘logical,’ needs to be defined. Here it is: Logical: pattern of thought (logic gates), imprinted on the brain that conceives things as:
2) Equal in parts and whole and finds
3) Identity and relations that lead to language and reason.
Moe Norman would have liked Spinoza if they would have teed-off in the same time and
space. Of course, they have always played together the same round as have we in eternity. What does this mean? I do not know. Beyond this our understanding does not go.
1) Runes, D. Ed: Dictionary of Philosophy, 4th ed. 1942. Philosophical Library, New York, N.Y.
P. 198. While I have many reference sources, this is my favorite. Among the contributors are Alonzo Church, Carl Hempel, May Black and Rudolf Carropi.
2) Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F., 1991, trans. 1994, Tomlinson, H. trans. What Is Philosophy? Columbia U Press, New York. I do not include Guattari under the description of ‘valient.’ I suspect his collaboration was detrimental to Deleuze’s earlier attempts to describe philosophy as expression.
3) Curley, E, 1994, A Spinoza Reader, The Ethics and Other Works, Princeton U, pp. 20, 21
4) Ibid, p.92
5) Spinoza, B. trans. Shirley S and Morgan M, The Complete Works, 2002, Indianapolis, Cambridge, Hackett, p. 100
6) Wittgenstein, L. trans. Anscombe, G.E.M., 1958 Philosophical Investigations, New York: Macmillan, p. 19e
7) DeShaw, R. Has Philosophy Ignored Spinoza’s Theory of Science? 2009. See website.
8) Spinoza B. trans. White H.L. and Stirling, A., The Ethics of Benedict De Spinoza, 1937, 4th ed. London: Oxford U Press, p. 87
9) Polka, B. 2007 Between Philosophy and Religion: Spinoza, The Bible and Modernity, Vol. 1: Hermeneutics and Ontology. Lanham, M.D: Lexington Books.
10) Spinoza, Shirley, op. cit. p. 86
11) Lloyd, S. N.E.J., Black Hole Computers, Scientific American, Nov 04, pp. 52-61
12) Adams, Douglas, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, 1980, Harmony Books, Random House: New York.
13) Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary, 1971, Oxford: Oxford U Press, p. 814
14) Boole, G. 1954 (1958 ed), An Investigation of the Laws of Thought on Which are Founded Theories of Logic and Probability, New York: Dover. Also see: DeShaw, R. op. cit, pp. 7-8
15) Einstein, A. trans. Lawson R., 1961, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory. New York: Crown Pub.
16) Damasio, A. 2003, Looking For Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain, New York: Harcourt
17) Spinoza/Shirley, op.cit., Ethics, Part V, Prop 23, sch p. 374
18) Lloyd, S. 2006, Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos, New York: Vintage, Random House
19) Euclid, trans. Heath, T. 1956, The Thirteen Books of Euclid’s Elements, Vol.1, New York: Dover, p. 153
20) Concise Oxford Dictionary, Oxford, p. 815
21) Curley, op.cit., p. 256
22) Dawkins, R. 2006, The God Delusion, New York: Houghton-Mifflin
23) Spinoza, B. trans. & ed. Curley, E. 1985. Collected Works of Spinoza, Vol. 1, Princeton: Princeton u. Press, p. 62
24) Ibid, pp. 62, 63
25) Boole, op. cit. p. 27
26) DeShaw, op.cit., pp. 7, 8.
27) Euclid, op.cit., p.155
28) Ibid, p. 225. At least my use is justified in the ‘passive’ if not the ‘active’ sense of coincide. See p. 223
29) Venturi, op.cit.
30) Norman, M. Golf Channel Academy Live (n.d.)
31) Shirley, op.cit., p. 6
32) Curley, p. 254
34) Kant, I. trans., Beck, L. 1956. Critique of Practical Reason, New York: Bobbs-Merrill
35) Curley, op.cit., p. 122
36) Ibid, p. 257
37) Spinoza, Curley, op.cit., p. 124, c.r. Spinoza, Shirley, p. 82 (Shirley translates, ‘intellect’ as ‘understanding,’ which makes more sense of this quote.) In footnote 7, Curley says: “The doctrine that the intellect is wholly passive appears to be rejected in the Ethics, III, P.I….”It is difficult to disagree with an eminent scholar like Curley but I did a content analysis (methodology from social science), of how Spinoza uses ‘understanding’ in the corpus of his works. In Part 3, proposition one, Spinoza is focusing on the mind’s and the body’s contribution to reason. (see p. 154-155 Curley Reader), but a complete survey of how Spinoza uses ‘understanding,’ suggests it is a gift from and of God (X) and independent of any of man’s striving, i.e., it is passive.
Curley seems to have mistaken intellect for understanding. This is why I included the Shirley translation that uses ‘understanding,’ instead of ‘intellect.’ Curley certainly knows that Spinoza said God does not have ‘intellect’ as we use the word.
38) Damasio, A. 1994. Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, New York: Harper-Collins (Quill), pp. 146, 147.
39) Deleuze, G. trans. Joughim, M. 1968/1992, Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza, New York: Zone Books
40) Deleuze, Guattari, op. cit. p. 60
41) Deleuze, G. trans. Hurley, R. 1970/1988. Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, San Francisco: City Lights.
42) Watson, T. and Hannigan, F. 1980. The Rules of Golf: Illustrated and Explained. New York: Random House
43) Garrett, D. ed. 1996. The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza. Cambridge: U of Cambridge. See contents page for writings of each philosopher.
44) Curley, E. 1988. Behind the Geometrical Method: A Reading of Spinoza’s Ethics. Princeton: Princeton U Press, p. xi.
45) Deleuze/Hurley, op.cit. p.3
46) Polka, op. cit., While not a European, Polka follows their hermeneutic tradition and develops the notion of ‘modernity’ in his work.
47) Deleuze/Joughim, op.cit. pp. 303-320
48) Curley, 1994, op.cit. p. 209
49) Deleuze/Hurley, op. cit. p. 23
50) Ibid, p. 53
51) Ibid, p. 34, fn 5
52) Spinoza/Curley, op.cit. p. 124 see fn 38
53) Curley, op. cit. p. 251
54) Shirley, op.cit. p. 6
55) James W. 1958. The Varieties of Religious Experience, New York: New American Library, p. 112
56) Lloyd, op.cit. p. 119
57) Euclid, op.cit. p. 155
58) Wittgenstein, op.cit. p. 61e
59) Curley, op.cit. pp. 58-61
60) Norman, M. Golf Channel Academy Live (n.d.)
61) Curley, op.cit. pp. 239-244
62) Ibid, p. 239
66) Ibid. Note, re: translation of ‘his’ which I bracket as ‘it’s.’ Curley says: “A related matter concerns the use of personal pronouns. It is sometimes observed that the use of personal pronouns is less common in Latin than in English, since the subject of the verb is often implicit in the verb ending. Often when personal pronouns are used, the masculine and neuter forms are the same. So unless a translator is prepared to violate the conventions of English, his translation is much more likely than the Latin original to convey the impression that God is being thought of as a person (and a male person, at that). This would certainly be a mistaken impression, but I know no good way to remove it.”
67) Ibid, pp. 239-240
68) Spinoza, Shirley, Ethics, Part I, prop 25. P. 232
69) Lloyd, op.cit. p. 79
70) Ibid, pp. 40-41
74) Ibid p. 80
77) Lloyd, S. From his website, The Scientist’s Cut, Chapter 7, It From Qubit: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos
78) Kuhn, T. 1962/1970, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago Press
79) Balzac, H. 1931, Balzac’s Masterpieces: Ten Novels. Philadelphia: David McKay
80) Curley, p. 63, Spinoza says to make all these things known to my fellow men. Also I insert, ‘neighbor’ here because of Spinoza’s identification of ethics with Christ’s definition of duty to love God and your neighbors as yourself. (Matthew 23: 37-40)
81) Curley, op.cit. p. 241
82) Ibid, p. 251
83) Ibid, p. 241
84) Ibid, p. 244
85) Ibid, pp. 239-240
86) Ibid, p. 244
88) Ibid, p. 254
89) Ibid, pp. 246-254
90) Ibid, pp. 247-248
91) Ibid, p. 255
92) Ibid, p. 246
93) Ibid, pp. 246-257
94) Ibid, p. 256
95) Ibid, p. 258
96) Euclid, op.cit p. 153
97) Curley, op.cit. p. 256
98) Lloyd, op.cit. p. 32
99) Ibid, p. 117
100) Spinoza, Curley, op. cit. p. xxiv
101) Ibid, p.xxvii
102) Curley, op.cit. p. 258
103) The Quantum Tamers: Revealing Our Weird and Wired Future. Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, On. Derek Diorio, Writer & Producer, 2009
104) Curley, op. cit. p. 257
105) Ibid, p. 61 (Look up the word, ‘taste’ in the Oxford Concise Dictionary.
106) Shirley, op.cit. p. 382
107) Holman Study Bible, 1962, The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version. Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Co, p. 1 (Genesis: 1:3)
108) Ibid, p. 999 (John 3:19)
109) Beeman, C.D. 2006. Another Way of Knowledge and Being: Opening Attentive Receptivity and Meander-Knowing Through Reading Spinoza and Heidegger in the Company of Elders. PhD dissertation. Unpublished, Kingston: Queen’s University.
110) Curley, op.cit. p. 290
111) Ibid, p. 144
112) Ibid pp. 138-141
113) Ibid p. 141
116) Spinoza, White, p. 87117)
117) Descartes,’ R. trans. Haldane, E. and Ross, G.P.T., 1911/1975. The Philosophic Works of Descartes, Vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge U Press, p. 7
118) Wittgenstein, op.cit. p. 84e
119) Descartes, op. cit. prefatory notes
120) Ibid, pp. 79-130
121) Curley, op.cit. p. 141. For a further development of these ideas, see my Bud the Brain Explores Existence.