The ‘Pale Blue Dot’

A ‘Pale Blue Dot’, they called it. Less than a Pixel; but still not Zero.

Earth, taken from the hugely successful Voyager mission [1990], 6 billion KM away, as it turned its lens inward one last time before entering interstellar space.

To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world‘ noted Carl Sagan a principal scientist on the mission [and never known to be shy at the mike].

And the ultimate unexamined conceit is the claim to an ‘Independent and Separated ‘Self”. The First Presumption of all Inquiry.

What exactly are you looking at when you look through a telescope? The universe does not begin in a distant and cataclysmic ‘Big Bang’. It is less dramatic an event than portrayed by the scientists.

Categorized as The Loop

Induction: Conjecture To Law

As with the Principle of Contradiction, the early Greeks refused to give the Induction-Rule the status of ‘Law’. It was a helpful rule, an informed conjecture, but no, it was not ‘Law’.

[Irascible party-poopers, these early Greeks. ‘Random’ is a complicated idea. I’ll get to it in a later Post]

With Induction, there is no requirement for consistency between derivations. Multiple Gods each have their own fenced fiefdoms. There is no burden, no insistence that there be a unified, consistent whole.

Thermodynamics does not have to jive with Molecular Biology in its final results. Each worships its own deity. [Where’d the Rep. from the Non-Contradiction side go?]

Things work, but not for the reasons you think they do. And they could stop working, again not for the reasons you think they might.

For a conjecture to become law it is required that it ‘Always Work’. The Laws of Motion cannot turn off at night, nor stop working when you are not looking.

Or do they?

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The Normal Curve

‘What we observe is not Nature in itself but Nature exposed to our method of questioning’ noted Werner Heisenberg [who was very familiar with the old Gaussian Curve].

You know, there’s been this flip question floating around for a few centuries as to whether Mathematics measures a ‘Real World’.

Or is it just us painting with a palette limited to the colors we can see. And then claiming we’ve caught the ghost in our picture.

Sort of like the Nobel Committee limiting the Literature Prize to a Writer writing in a language it can read [about 5 out of around 7,000].

Same thing here. Most scientific testing is grounded on the perfectly symmetric Gaussian Curve [the ‘Normal Distribution’: see the Diagram].

It is arguably the most widely used tool in Applied Mathematics. Various theorems prove that all things sampled in sufficiently large quantities converge to the Gaussian Curve.

If you are taking a daily pill for blood-pressure, a vaccine for Covid, you can be certain that somewhere in the process of being approved, the Gaussian Curve had to stamp its approval.

The Curve is conceived on a binary platform and mounted on the critical assumption [among others] of ‘Independent, Separate Observations’, a fairly dodgy idea but embraced in the Scientific community as perfectly realistic and sensible.

Is this the way Nature really curves? Or is this the only way Nature knows to curve given how how we’ve rigged the rules, given how we think?

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‘Not’ And The Laws of Science

This idea of ‘Not’ has a very long reach, a reach not fully appreciated by most of us. Here’s just one more example which might give you reason to give it its due respect. The Post is trimmed to a quarter of its original length.  

‘Scientific-Law’ is a  forgivable exaggeration by the scientific-community. They are in fact generalizations from limited observations, tentatively affirmed hypothesis leading a precarious existence. 

The Mother Principle of Experimental-Science is the Principle of Induction. And along with the Contradiction Principle, it holds up much of what we know as modern Science.

And Induction’s ‘Rejection-Machine’ becomes functional, takes life, because of the word ‘Not’. And its sidekicks, ‘Always’ and ‘Never.

The Principle says: ‘Like tomorrow’s sunrise, what is happening will continue happening until it doesn’t happen.’

The Induction Rule is formalized in the Mathematics of ‘Probability Theory’. And the First Affirmation of Experimental Science is that a hypothesis is never proved. It only stands unrejected. Via Negativa.

The Principle of Falsifiability and its numerous variants.

It is impossible to prove that a man always speaks the truth, but easy to test if he never lies. One lie is proof.

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What Is It About ‘Objectivity’?

What is it about this word ‘Objective’? Why does everybody and his aunt want to be ‘Objective’?

It’s like if you weren’t objective, you believed in Santa Claus [whose hard to locate these days, fearing gender and race discrimination lawsuits]. Even Art Critics hint at objective criteria for high-art, known of course only to the Critic.

There is no a priori reason why ‘Objectivity’ is any better than ‘Subjectivity’. It simply reflects the muted suspicion that Truth is independent of me and my views.

Truth is quite indifferent, happily so, to the Subject and its pretenses.

testing, testing

So I’m watching this interview about the making of a documentary on the bomb-scarred children of Afghanistan.

‘I couldn’t take it anymore’ the lady film-maker said. ‘It was all too traumatic. So I stopped the film, brought some of the children back to the U.S. and returned to complete the documentary.’

‘Oh!’ interrupted the bright reporter ‘But didn’t that make your documentary less objective?’

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The Platform For Scientific Inquiry

A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring‘ wrote Alexander Pope in the early years of the Scientific Age, the longer poem, a celebration of the new Prometheus.

The Symbol ‘0’ is not against Science. It is the necessary platform on which the Scientist must mount to draw the best from Scientific Inquiry. Get to it. And go back to the Lab.

The ‘Scientific Stance’ is the stance of ‘Seeing Straight’, of not denying what is in front of your eyes in skimpy deflection and obstinate argument. It is a refusal to blink, wink and look-away.

But if the self-scuttling is incomplete, we create the modern ‘Objective Scientist’.

Analytic and observation methods, cut loose from the  monastic disciplines that were a requirement in the first houses of Learning, ignorant of the simplest Meditative and Mindfulness Practices, severs the observer from that which is observed.

Investigating the self-referential loop is effectively barred. An elaborate and intricately layered reality is built which at its core is absurd.

The perch of the contemporary Scientist, the post from which he views, is located at an arbitrary point, a point no Scientist would accept as legitimate if it were within his own domain of investigation.

You cannot: ‘Wish to be Objective’; then ‘Objective’ becomes your new subjective bias. You cannot: ‘Prefer to not-prefer’; then ‘Not-Preference’ becomes your new preference. ‘Trying to see straight’ is a tenth of an inch away from: Seeing Straight.

A man conditioned over many years to be ‘Objective’ by a studied process of limiting the personal, limiting the ‘Subjective’. Out there is the ‘Objective, Observed World’, and behind this fog of the emotional, the wishful and the personal, lies the ‘Subjective, Seeing Me’.

And he builds a self-created ‘Objective World’ that is itself deeply sourced within his own unexamined ‘Subjective Self’.

Instead of standing on ‘True Nothing’ and becoming ‘Subdued to the material at hand’, the modern Scientist sits on a mountain of venerated paradigms, inherited conventions, embedded preferences and unspoken presumptions.

The way out is well-mapped. The Observer must be investigated first before inquiry on the Observed. The lens must turn inwards.

None of this is unique to the profession of Science. Art Theory for instance, has long struggled with the notion of ‘Objective’ criteria, a fundamental pillar of the defense of Culture itself and the confusion is palpable in the wrenching obscurantism of today’s Art Dialogues.

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‘Lo! It Is Our Own’

Arthur Eddington
Arthur Eddington, [1882-1944] Cambridge. The first Astrophysicist to confirm Einstein’s Theory

‘Something unknown is doing we don’t know what. We have found that where Science has progressed the farthest, the Mind has but regained from Nature that which Mind put into Nature.

We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound account for its origins.

At last we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the footprints. And Lo! It is our own.’

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Einstein On ‘Science’


‘Science is the endeavor to bring together by means of systematic thought, the perceptible phenomena of the world, into as thoroughgoing an association as possible.

To put it boldly, it is the attempt at the posterior reconstruction of Existence by the process of conceptualization.’

You might want to step back and browse the Posts on ‘Concept’ and ‘Being’ to put things in perspective.

Categorized as The Loop

The ‘Scientific Stance’

The ‘Scientific Stance’ is Self-Mortification [Lite]. When you are effecting the ‘Scientific Stance’ you are already part-way on the ‘Backward Step’. And its proper terminus, if you avoid a short-stop, is ‘The-Not’.

Since you won’t take my word for it, here are three very distinguished members of the extended Scientific Community on the core of what is meant by the ‘Scientific Stance’.

'Mathematics..a beauty cold and austere..'

Bertrand Russell, co-author of the Principia Mathematica:

‘The kernel of the scientific outlook is the refusal to regard our own desires, tastes and interests as affording a key to the understanding of the Universe..

[It] involves a suppression of hope and fear, love and hate..the whole subjective emotional life, until we become subdued to the material at hand, able to see it frankly without misconception and without bias, without any wish except to see it as it is..

Albert Einstein:

‘Where the world ceases to be the scene of our personal hopes and wishes, where we face it as free human beings..we enter the realm of Art and Science.

If [it is] communicated in the language of Logic we are engaged in Science.. common to both is the loving devotion to that which transcends personal concerns and volition‘.

Michael Faraday:

‘I will simply express my strong belief, that that point of self-education which consists in teaching the mind to resist its desires and inclinations, until they are proved to be right, is the most important of all, not only in things of natural philosophy, but in every department of dally life.’

[Einstein famously had Faraday’s Photograph on his desk at Princeton.]

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What is Science?

‘A little learning is a dangerous thing’ wrote Alexander Pope in praise of Science, ‘Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring’

‘Science’, from the Latin Scire, related to the words ‘Cognition’ and ‘Consciousness’, is a form of Knowledge, a type of Knowing.

Science is the nearest thing we have to a credible Modern Religion. And Science has three parts:

First, the codified ‘Scientific Method’ itself. Repeatable, measurable tests; consistent, cumulative theory; verifiable data and documentation; informed peer review, and so on.

Secondly, its central principles, the Principle of Contradiction and the Principle of Induction [there are others but these are the big ones. We’ll get to Method and Principles in later Posts].

And finally, very importantly, the ‘Scientific-Stance’.

Categorized as The Loop

The Copernican Center

Science as a Modern Religion began with a verifiable claim on planetary self-displacement. Where we stand is not the true center. The Observer is not the unmoving ground.

Nickolaus Copernicus [1473-1543] Portrait, Torum Town-Hall, Poland

‘Science’, from the Latin Scire, related to the words ‘Cognition’ and ‘Consciousness’, is a form of Knowledge, a type of Knowing.

Science is important. Except for some arrivistes like ‘Liberal Humanism’ or older elites like Agnosticism, it is the Modern Educated Man’s most embraceable Religion.

[And like all religions, it offers tremendous solace and hope. Religions have their reasons to be.]

Nickolaus Copernicus, a Renaissance scholar and a catholic cleric, began the Modern Age of Science. In his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium:

There is no center for the celestial spheres; the center of the Earth is not the center of the Universe; the spheres revolve around the Sun..‘.

Before him, dear old Earth was the static center of the Universe [‘Geocentric’ paradigm]. The Heliocentric Theory [‘Helios’, the Greek Sun-God] found a new deity. The real center, it said, was in-fact the Sun.

But Science keeps replacing every displaced god with a new deity. Science hasn’t finished the job. It needs to step back all the way, to the absence of all centers, of any center. Step back all the way, all the way back to ‘True Nothing’.

Martin Luther, whose reinterpretation of Rome let loose the Prometheus that reshaped World Order helped publish Copernicus’ work, if I recall. One, a Catholic cleric, the other its nemesis, in a brotherhood of defiant ideas. I’ll have to fish my old files for the details.

Categorized as The Loop

Schrödinger: ‘The Objectivation Principle’

Erwin Schrödinger [1887-1961] Nobel, Physics, 1933

‘The Objectivation Principle-the hypothesis of the real a simplification where without being aware of it, we exclude the subject of cognizance from the Nature that we endeavor to understand.. which by this very procedure becomes the objective world.

At the end ..I put myself which had constructed the world as a mental product, back into it- with the pandemonium of disastrous logical consequences that flow from this chain of faulty reasoning..

The antinomy cannot be solved at the level of present day Science..[which is] entirely engulfed [in it]- without knowing it..Science must be made anew..’

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It Takes A Fool

It takes a Genius to answer: ‘Gravity makes the Apple fall’. And a Fool to ask: ‘Why does Gravity make the apple fall?’

Isaac Newton, wise, died a pious Catholic seeing no quarrel here between law, origin and purpose.

‘Space was the Sensorium of an omnipresent God’ was what he wrote to Wilhelm Leibniz, a co-founder of Modern Logic and the Calculus. [Calculus? You know, that business about ‘Tending to Zero’.]

‘That’s ancient stuff’ you say ‘It’s not Gravity; it’s Space-Time. Matter tells Space-Time how to curve and curved Space-Time tells Matter how to move’. Nice. So who kicked the  ball first? [Hey! What difference does it make?]

What was there before the ‘Big Bang’? And where did the Monkey come from that Man descends from?

If my body temperature changes by a measly 6 degrees F, I pass out. [I’m still looking for my ‘Consciousness’ in the rest of the range.]

So is the sky out there blue? Or is it right here, the electro-chemical rinse coursing along my neurons as I look?

What caused the butterfly to whip his wings in Brazil that it can whip me up a tornado in Dakota?

Why does the gene reproduce? Well, that’s an easy one. That’s because Nature’s primary goal happens to be Self-Preservation [well, now you know].

Our rules of arithmetic repeatedly fumble at the ‘Measured Speed of Light’. So what does addition mean? [See the posts on Kurt Godel.]

What defends the ‘Conservation Principles’ of Physics [or the classes of Classical Logic] which themselves underived from the laws of Physics [of Logic], arbiter the entry of laws into Physics [into Logic]?

The visible part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum is about a third of one percent. ‘Real’ seems a dodgy idea to me if my visibility blanks out at 0.3 %. [Where did the Universe go?]

Anything you extrapolate to the 99.7%, when read in the range of the 0.3% [including the divide of 99.7 versus 0.3] puts you smack-dab into the Loop.

‘Ask the lady in the corner office’ says the annoyed Scientist. ‘These are questions above my pay-grade. Science is not designed to answer stuff like that’.

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A Pious Insanity

Here’s my old File-Box Post:

I had been around. And I had slid. From an amused bemusement, past simple bewilderment, beyond all sophisticated skepticism, to a lurching unquiet desperation.

A pious insanity is afoot.

Scrape the surface and nothing makes sense. So I sit on the side and agree to pretend.

Cherished, coddled paradigms and pet intellectual props that are deeply conflicted are preserved precariously with strips and patches of facile assumptions, specious logic and authoritative bluster. A Learned Ignorance replaced by an erudite cleverness.

I am ready to allow the possibility [and just the possibility] that most explanations are deflections, denials and exalted rationalizations.

The modern equivalent of the mythic: ‘Disease, Old Age and Death’, the rousing that must precede every entry into the forest. A gentler sensibility than mine would have flagged the Buddhist ‘Suffering’ [Dukkha] instead of a futile senselessness.

Perhaps you are one of  the blessed, one with an easy resilient faith. You don’t see what all the fuss is about. You are unfazed by contradictions, stand firm in conflicts.

You don’t need this tortuous trek. Go home.

Categorized as The Loop

What is ‘New York City’?

What is ‘New York City’?

The above is not New York City. It is  a photograph of New York City. It is not a photograph of New York City, it is an image on your computer screen. It is not an image on..

So what is ‘New York City’?

Call the Mayor’s office and take a Surveyor with you for a walk along the East River. Where does Manhattan begin?

The sand along the  river’s edge has long moved on, the shrubs of last year now replaced by new ones. The water in the river today has no memory of the water that flowed yesterday. 

So what is ‘New York City’?

A confounding snarl of sign, symbol, name, map, copy and terrain. ‘New York City’ is a reference, an Idea.

I don’t recognize Manhattan anymore, the East Village or SOHO, which used to be a truck- stop before Gucci moved in. The hole-in-the-wall bars were a place for good, cheap beer, genuinely starving artists, the occasional erudite hooker and others of ambiguous gender. Not any more.

Categorized as The Loop

Self-Reference: The Definition of Definition

‘Definition’ derives from the Latin: De Finito-‘to make finite’. In other words, to draw a line. to divide and to make Double. Definitions are co-dependent and have no life except in mutual relationship.

But how do I define ‘Definition’ when every definition of ‘Definition’ is itself a defined word?

All Inquiry begins with Definition. It is the center bolt of Rational Discourse. And the line limiting fraudulent bombast.

Definition can be verbal, as that provided by a Dictionary. It can be spatial, auditory, tactile; it can be explicit, implicit, smooth or crooked; static, dynamic, clear or vague.

You may not explicitly know the definitions, but are implicitly using them in any form of expression, logic or language. But there must be a boundary in order to define something. And there must be a definition, explicit or implied, in order to have a dialogue.

We’ve got ourselves a fenced space where the fence needs to be moved further and further out as we repeatedly try to fence it in. If you can’t define ‘Definition’ all Inference drawn is spurious precision. The Logic will prove whatever you want it to prove.

So what’s the definition of ‘Love’? What’s that? You’ll tell me when you feel it? Touché!

In the wonder-world of the Self-Loop, the word with the most number of posted definitions the last time I checked seems to be the word ‘Set’, as in Mathematical Set, which is another word for ‘Definition’.

Categorized as The Loop

The ‘Origin Of Language’?

You can’t get to the ‘Origin’ of Language, an idea deeply embedded in a linguistic-understanding of Self and World, using Language [Language again. Yikes!].

If you do, you will build fine elegant models of the ‘Origin of Language’ and write the expensive 500 page tomes [the most recent one I saw in a bookstore clipped 600]. But it has nothing at all to do with the origin of Language. 

So how does one get to the ‘Origin of Language’, itself a linguistic construct?

You can begin by buying yourself a durable Meditation Mat. And try and step out of language to take a good look at what is going on.

The number of theories floating around about Language are prodigious, even by the grant-induced profligacy of modern academic opinion.

Well, it all started by us imitating birds and animals, says one theory. It really started when men began living in groups, says another. Might be, but Man didn’t learn to speak until he discovered God and ritual, adds a third. That’s not it, it has to do with mother-child bonding, says a fourth. Of course not, it’s all neuro-muscular; it began with the facial muscles and the tongue.

The more widely followed of the newer theories posit some sort of gene, a patch, a point, in mind-brain space. We are not sure where it is, when or how this center came alive, or why on earth it did. But this mysterious center is where it all started.

[Only a Professor lost in language would not see the deeply religious origin of such views.]

If you try and not let your sophistication-gene get reflexively activated, you’ll see that the above penetrating review of language is itself entirely in language.

All in language, including this and the lines above. 

Categorized as The Loop



‘So how did Language originate?’
That’s language. A ‘Cause and Effect’ Aficionado.

‘And when did it begin?’
More language. The Temporal Man.

‘Any idea where?’
Still more language. The Spatial Man,

‘We all know that ‘Why?’ never has an answer, right?’
Deep language, but still language.

‘The questions are in Language. So they are invalid?’
Skeptical language, but still language.

‘So the answers are in Language. That does not make them wrong.’
Righteous language, but still language.

‘I think the Gene-Idea makes perfect sense. It’s all DNA and stuff.’
Faith language, but still language.

‘I don’t think you know the whole story. Something slippery here.’
Suspicious language, but still language.

‘As Wittgenstein claimed, is language itself the vehicle of thought?’
Thinking language, but still language.

‘None of this is very convincing. You might be right. But so what?’
Defiant language, but still language.

‘This is Bullshit!’
Angry language, but still language.

The most expressive language so far.

Categorized as The Loop

Language: Mapping The World

The World is divided into Subject and Object, Noun and Verb, Gender and Tense. Words like ‘of’ and ‘for’, ‘to’ and ‘from’, ‘and’ and ‘or’, create a sanctioned and structured web of associations and divisions.

And we are to be forgiven if we take this synthetic structure as intrinsic to the way the World is, the way the World works.

Language maps the World in it’s own image. It draws the boundaries, shades the colors. And it is a self-sufficient mapped World that is very good at explaining itself to itself.

‘The World outside makes no sense. But come into my parlor and I will serve you a fresh helping of Words that will make everything nice and cozy’.

The language you ‘think-in’ is the unexamined repository of a millennia of influences. What ideas and things did the culture see as worth labeling? What distinctions did the culture see as worth marking?

Eskimos famously have a dozen names for Snow and the modern Investment-Banker a dozen names for Money.

Language creates the convention of legitimate distinctions that allow discourse. It draws the lines in the socio-linguistic matrix.

Reality carved in familiar ways is ceaselessly reinforced. A self-created line, repeated, entrenched, is now seen as a self-evident

Categorized as The Loop

‘In The Beginning Was The Word’


As Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote: ‘Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.‘ 

[The limits of my Language are the limits of my World.]

‘Philosophy’ he observed, ‘is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by language.’

In the beginning was the Word’. The World begins in Vac [Sanskrit]; Vox [Latin; Voice].

It can take a lifetime of observation to appreciate how much of our World is based on Language.

It fits us like a snug set of contact lenses. We view the World through them.

And we don’t remember that we have them on until something hits us smack in the eye.

Any linguistic discussion on Language must be introduced with the cautionary note that you are diving headlong into the swirl of the Self-Loop. It is Language on Language.

So watch your step. And try not to take long leaps.

Categorized as The Loop

Math-Verbal Scores [Or: ‘Not Again, Son!’]

Universities will love you unconditionally if you are good at Numbers and Words. An ability to express in Words and figure-out in Numbers. Math-Verbal skills.

A primary service of a modern university is training in the ability to build advanced models. And great math-verbal skills, the ability to take-apart and put-together using signs and symbols is the most desirable raw-material for training in advanced model-building.

As the level of intricacy and sophistication of subjects increase as in Academic Philosophy or Theoretical Science [my favorite though remains ‘Post-Modernism’] their content becomes a complex mix of abstraction and reification, an intricate cross-referencing play of sign upon sign.

Signs that refer exclusively to other signs. Thoughts that refer exclusively to other thoughts. Words defined entirely using other words. Every untied knot revealing a new knot.

Sign-world. A hall of mirrors. A closed, contained world of abstraction and analogic expression, layer upon layer, in a self-referential interweaving of sign and symbol.

Categorized as The Loop

Dr. Schopenhauer: The One-Dollar Bill

Arthur Schopenhauer [1788-1860]
Arthur Schopenhauer [1788-1860]

Everything else can satisfy only one wish ‘[but] money alone is absolutely good…because it is the abstract satisfaction of every wish…

Take a look at the One-Dollar Bill. It has lots of interesting symbols. And inspiring Latin regularly misused by Presidents [Annuit Coeptis, E Pluribus Unum, Novus Ordo Seclorum]. And more.

It’s a rich, unappreciated, ignored document. I’ve yet to see anyone take a look at it twice. But they do count them very carefully.

The Dollar-Bill is in fact worthless if not for the signs printed on it. You can buy a meal, have a drink with a Dollar-Bill. But you are not supposed to eat the Dollar-Bill for lunch.

The ‘Open Eye’, best known as the Freemason Symbol actually has very long roots going back into early Hindu and Buddhist iconography.

This ‘Eye of Providence’ sits atop the isosceles edges of an equidistant base most commonly interpreted as the Christian Trinity.

And thanks to the philosophical roots of the Founding Fathers it can be found on the Great Seal of the United States as well as the One Dollar Bill.

The Economist’s term ‘Money-Illusion’ is the name for the state where you confound the dollar-amount of your Income with the things you can buy with it.

If you suffer from Money-Illusion, you remain unconcerned when prices double and your Income remains flat.

Or you feel elated with a 10% bonus when the inflation-rate has just surged 50%.

Sign is like a Dollar-bill. A Dollar-bill is a printed piece of paper with a lot of signs on it. We can confound the paper with the things it can buy. And at the next level, the cheer it can bring. And so on.

This is Everyman’s ‘Money-Illusion’. The Economist’s can have theirs back.

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The Nature Of ‘Sign’


What is a Sign?

‘Sign’, from the Latin Signum, is a mark, an indication, a point, a reference.

What’s so special about this sign with the pointing arrow that reads: ‘New York’?

A proper Sign always does a two-step jingle. It both stands for itself and refers to something else. A perfected playground for the Self-Loop.

The sign ‘New York’ is both a sign that says ‘New York’ and a pointer to the State of New York. You read the sign ‘New York’ and follow it’s directions to the State of New York. [Check with a Professor of Semiotics, though.]

Language and Logic are expressed in Signs. The Alphabet and the Number System are structures of made-up of signs.

But the most important, intractable signs are those that bounce around in our head.

Sign, like the Meta-Trinity: Thought, Mind and Consciousness, has this extraordinary ability to multiply and divide, while all the time remaining itself.

Signs double while remaining single. Signs, in other words, are fecund mediums to ‘Give Birth To Oneself’.

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Wittgenstein: ‘The Vehicle Of Thought’


Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote: ‘When I think in Language there are not meanings going through my mind in addition to the verbal expressions: the language is itself the vehicle of thought’.

Professors have made a nice living arguing about what a ‘Thought’ and a ‘Concept’ is for centuries [using Thought and Concept, of course.]

But here was Wittgenstein saying it’s all mostly words. This mysterious thing we called ‘Thinking’ is made up of just plain old words. Games we play with words.

Don’t believe him of course. Get back on the Meditation Mat and Sit.

The Wittgenstein family in Vienna, summer 1917. From left, siblings Kurt, Paul, and Hermine Wittgenstein; their brother-in-law, Max Salzer; their mother, Leopoldine Wittgenstein; Helene Wittgenstein Salzer; and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

I always liked Professor Wittgenstein. He taught Logic and Language at Cambridge.

And a founder of what for a brief time became celebrated as the break-through subject of Analytical Philosophy [Philosophy with large helpings of Formal Logic in it]. A philosopher with a fan-following. [Stranger things happen. Paris shut-down for Jean-Paul Sartre’s funeral.]

A twist to his tale. In a University setting, to stop believing in everything you have lectured on for years is rare. Rarer still, to announce it as so and write about it. Intellectual Honesty, a funny word these days.

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Rumi’s ‘Beloved’, not Heidegger’s ‘Being’

Empty Logical Classes. Ontological Assumptions. Teleological Fulfillment.

Which planet are you from? This is pretentious bunk. Male testosterone rutted in a linear groove.

I pine for Rumi’s ‘Beloved’; not Heidegger’s ‘Being’.

‘Luckily for me, I never took any of it seriously. I am a woman. I move  with my Heart. I dance with the Gopis, I too am in love with Krishna.

All this is ‘Man-Stuff’. I don’t see a single woman-author quoted in the list. Like every other Religion, the Dharma got hijacked by the male-monks and they get to write the Manual’.

But what applies for ‘Man-Stuff’ applies equally to ‘Woman-Stuff’. Unfortunately. Lady-Gurus rarely talk ‘Being’; it is on the splendors of Love rediscovered. But you can’t get stuck on ‘Love’ [although I would very much like to do so].

‘Love’, far more pleasing at every level than stiff and faceless characters like ‘Being’, is unfortunately prone to the same pitfalls. There is nothing particularly special or stable about it [even if ‘stability’ were to be our goal, which it is not].

Do men genuflect to stern high abstractions more readily? And do women love ‘Love’ a little too much? Ask the Poets; this is just Philosophy drone.

‘The-Not’ does not stand in opposition to ‘Love’. Or any enriching emotion. Or any emotion, for that matter.

You just can’t pin a feature on it like ‘Love’ and expect it to respond in a way that you believe ‘Love’ [or any emotion] should respond. You will feel let-down but it will not be the fault of ‘The-Not’.

Just as you revel in that most desirable stupor of a new amorous intimacy, the man you thought you would spend the rest of your life with leaves town with your best-friend. And you will blame poor old ‘The-Not’ all over again.

[Gosh, this must be one of my oldest Posts on file, likely late nineties. Nothing much to change, really.]

Categorized as The Loop

‘Being’ And Logic: Aristotle

Aristotle [384-322 B.C.] National Museum, Athens.
384-322 BCE
National Museum, Athens.

Aristotle and the Lyceum philosophers proposed ten categories among which Substance was ontologically primary.

In other words, Substance is; and the world with its million features revolved around it.

The  idea had been around awhile. In the first elements, Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Space [or ‘Sky’], a list found in most early literate cultures, Earth [Prithvi] was the primary substance, the grounding element.

Get to ‘Substance’ and you get to the heart of the matter. It was the locus to which all attributes attach. ‘Matter’ remained unchanged as ‘Form’ evolved from Acorn to Oak, from Embryo to Man, in natural teleological fulfillment.

The material world matched the propositions of the propounded Logic. And Aristotle’s Logic in turn reflected the lines and contours of the propounded, modeled material world.

[See the Post on ‘Aristotle’s ‘God”. I don’t think it is up yet.]

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‘Being’ And Philosophy: Heidegger


Martin Heidegger’s roots were in Phenomenology, from Phainomenon, ‘what shows itself in itself’.

And he was arguably the dominant influence on Academic Philosophy and high cafe- speculation for most of the last century.

[I’ll take Les Deux Magots over a library any sunny day.]

Here is Martin Heidegger:

‘The indefinability of Being does not dispense with the question of its meaning but forces it upon us. the self-evident all our knowing and predicating.

Everyone understands ‘The sky is blue’, ‘I am happy’.. but this average comprehensibility only demonstrates the incomprehensibility. An enigma lies a-priori..

We do not know what Being means but already when we ask: ‘What is Being?’, we stand in an understanding of the ‘is’ without being able to determine conceptually what the ‘is’ means..

Heidegger circled in the vicinity of the Symbol but never broke through. And he had to invent a whole new terminology with achingly looped language[‘the possibility whose probability it is solely to be possible’] to bridge the sharp divide between where his readers stood and what he saw at the Cliff’s Edge.

I knew an artist once in New York’s Greenwich Village who disliked books and was utterly dismissive of all philosophical rant. But he always kept a hard-cover edition of 600 Page :‘Being and Time’, prominently displayed on his Naguchi coffee-table. The Language, and with it Heidegger, had taken on their own Mystique.

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‘Being’ And Philosophy: Hegel

It is a natural assumption in philosophy, before we start to deal with its proper subject matter, viz. the actual cognition of what really is, one must first of all come to an understanding about cognition..a certain uneasiness seems justified..


For if cognition is the instrument, [it] sets out to reshape and alter it. If [it] is not an instrument but a passive medium through which the light of Truth reaches us, then again we do not receive this Truth as it is, but only..through this medium.

Either way we employ a means which immediately brings about the opposite of its own end..what is really absurd is that we should make use of a means at all…

Hegel was acutely aware of this coasting close to the Self-Loop. There is a literature which argues that much of his later work was a recoil from this threat of outright chaos. But Hegel, like Immanuel Kant, succumbed, stopped short and turned back at the cliff’s edge.

Instead he transformed his intuition of the Self-Eating Expression into the more manageable trinity: ‘Thesis, Anti-Thesis, Synthesis’ [a structure that Hegel actually credited to Kant].

From Marx and Mao to Derrida and ‘Deconstructionism’, intellectuals saw explanation here. The rest as they say, is history.

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‘Being’ And Science: Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Science is the endeavor to bring together by means of systematic thought, the perceptible phenomena of the world, into as thoroughgoing an association as possible.

To put it boldly, it is the attempt at the posterior reconstruction of Existence by the process of conceptualization…

Later, in a less declarative, more reflective moment, he modified it. ‘There is neither Evolution…nor Destiny: only Being’.

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‘Being’ : Upaniṣad And Bible

From the Chandogya Upanishad: ‘In the beginning there was ‘Being’ alone; the One without a second’.

This ‘Being’ later becomes the ‘Subtle Inner Essence’ of the Upanishad and over time becomes the Vedanthic ‘True Self’, a central theme of its Teachers through today.

In Exodus, Moses asks The Presence Its name and The Presence replies: Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh.

I am that I am…thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you‘.

The opening command, the first of the Ten Mosaic Commandments is a categorical claim to ‘Being’:

I AM the Lord your God who brought you …out of the house of Bondage…thou shalt have no other Gods before Me.’

Of course, Theologians, the intellectuals of the Faith, proceeded to unwrap all this in the only way they knew how.

A host of abstract features was tagged-on: Eternal, Infinite, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Good-Being, Ground of Being, and such. A list of preferred measurements for Man’s ideal ‘God’.

It kept the language above the common riff-raff who it was thought took the Bible literally.

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The Ontological Elephant


‘It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is’.
Lewinsky Hearings: 1998

Just as Epistemology studies ‘Knowing’ while already in a state of Knowing, Ontology studies ‘Being’ while firmly resident in a state of Being.

It is the Elephant in the Room, the one we all agree to ignore.

Existence, from the Latin ‘ex-sistere‘: ‘to stand forward, manifest’.

We are making an implicit ontological assignment, granting the status of ‘Being’ [Existence, ‘Is-ness’] anytime and every time we use the little word ‘Is’.

‘Is’ is arguably the most used grammatical link in the English Language.

Try it. Try and speak on your cell-phone for 10 minutes without using the word ‘Is’. Try and write a page in English without using any of its variants [was, will be, etc].

The clutter and gossip of the world would die down nicely if a rule was passed that no man or woman on the planet may use the word ‘Is’ for a period of 24 hours.

Its hard; but here is the strangest thing. This ubiquitous word, this word we use a hundred times a day in all its variations, has no formal definition, is in fact undefinable.

Very wise men have been trying to define it for a few thousand years and no one has scored anything more than a Wise-Gentleman’s ‘C’.

But that has not stopped our enterprising Universities from building a Subject out of it. A Subject called Ontology.

In the same way that not having an honest definition for ‘Know’ did not discourage them from starting a Subject called Epistemology.

‘Being’, like ‘Thought’ and ‘Voice’ [Language] is very, very close to our skin. A claim to ‘Being’ in any of its variants is ultimately a claim to a ‘Self’.

But precisely because of its nearness to our skin it is that much more difficult to give workable examples [like say ‘Consciousness’].

The best that can be done is to give a list of excerpts from famous fellow-travelers that may convince you of what I am talking about. And get you back on the Meditation Mat.

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‘The More You Know, The Less You Understand’

Until I know what ‘Know’ means I live inside the Dictionary, defining each word using another word, earnestly expanding my vocabulary of erudite ignorance.

I go from page to page chasing my tail with no hope of exit. Hence ‘Delusion’.

‘Knowing’ precedes Model, is prior to Alphabet, preemptive of Number. You cannot newly define it, for it precedes the concept of ‘Definition’.

You cannot newly seek it, for it preempts the concept of ‘Seek’. You cannot newly prove it, for it is prior to the notion of ‘Proof’.

You can never know anything about Knowing without being in contradiction to the act of Knowing itself. ‘Knowing’ and ‘Not-Knowing’ is a distinction always and only made in a state of ‘Knowing’.

If you can newly define the word ‘Know’, by that very fact, what you have defined is not the word ‘Know’.

If you say: ‘I Know’, you are off; if you say: ‘I don’t Know’, you are equally off. What’s common between them is the letter ‘I’.

Or as Lao Tzu put it: ‘The more you know, the less you understand

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‘Delusion’: Living Inside The Dictionary

I cannot find the meaning to the phrase ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’, within the pages of the Dictionary to which, in order to use, I must bring this ‘Minimum-Knowledge’.

But what happens when I seek for the definition of ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’ inside a Dictionary without being aware that I am already using this ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’ when I seek it?

In Socratic speak: ‘To tell us to get hold of something we already have in order to know something we are already thinking of…‘.

With Language. it is possible to work backwards. In other words, it is possible, with due care and diligence, to identify your beginning inventory of English, the ‘Minimum-Knowledge’ that you bring with you in order to use a Dictionary.

With ‘Knowledge’, it is impossible.

If you can understand this line you are reading you are already well into a state of advanced ‘Knowing’. Much more so when you seek for a definition of the word ‘Know’. 

In Primal Forgetting, I build my entire vocabulary using words that define other words in a closed self-referential loop with no appreciation of the preemptive and prior ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’ that I have brought with me.

This is the original state of ‘Delusion’[Avidya, Agnana].

[Do not to confound ‘Delusion’ with its Post-Vedanthic interpretation as ‘Error’. You are well into ‘Knowledge’ when you start binary classifications such as ‘Accuracy and Error’.]

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How To Use A Dictionary

Samuel Johnson: 1755

A Dictionary defines new and unfamiliar words in terms of old and familiar ones.

In order to use a Dictionary I must enter with a ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’.

And this ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’ must itself be sourced outside the Dictionary.

I must already possess this ‘Minimum-Knowledge of English’ before using a Dictionary and without it the Dictionary is of no use to me.

I search Webster’s for the meaning of the word ‘Metropolis’.

Metropolis: ‘The main city, often the capital, of a country, state or region’. But what is a City?

City: ‘A large important town’. But what is a Town?

Town: ‘A place enclosed or fenced in; a collection of houses enclosed within walls; a hamlet; a village’. But what is a Village?

Village: ‘A group of houses in the country, smaller than a town or city and larger than a hamlet’.

We have come full circle. This is all a Dictionary is meant to do. We can go no further. A Hamlet is defined in terms of ‘Village’; a Village in terms of ‘Hamlet’.

In order to use the Dictionary, I must enter with knowledge of what is a ‘Hamlet’ or a ‘Village’. If I do not, I will find myself in a permanent loop within the Dictionary with no exit.

If I am alert to that, I close the Dictionary and find a ‘Hamlet’, take a trip and visit  a ‘Village’.

If I am not alert to it, I keep turning the pages and look for new definitions without ever leaving the Dictionary. And enter the boudoir of the Loop.

[Literati say a Dictionary spirals down in terms of ‘simpler’ words. The simplest words in Language are ‘is’ and ‘not’ and men have been struggling to define them for 2 millennia. So watch out.]

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How To Learn Tibetan

Let’s work through an example to understand Socrates’ scathing dismissal of the various proposed definitions for ‘Knowledge’. 

We understand [and create] the new only in reference to the old, only in counterpoint to that which is not-new. Co-Dependence, once again.

Your most imaginative construction of distant galaxy and strange alien is little more than a rearrangement of decidedly familiar idea and image. [‘R2-D2’ not-withstanding, a true alien must remain alien to your known world.]

New learning begins in an extension of what is already learnt. The unfamiliar originates in the conversant and the familiar. The Unknown begins in the Known.

I start with what I know in order to know something new.

I teach a child the meaning of the word ‘Cat’ by pointing to a picture of a cat. I do not read her the dictionary definition of Cat: ‘A species of carnivorous quadrupeds, of genus Felis.’

I speak American-English and I wish to learn Tibetan. I go to a teacher who speaks Tibetan and American-English.

I don’t go to a teacher who speaks Tibetan and German, nor to a teacher who speaks American-English and Japanese.

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‘Knowing What You Do Not Know’

‘Having the good sense not to fancy you know what you do not know’. This is the limit of honest Epistemological insight.

The Good Professors could not come to terms with Socrates’ negation, this descent into infinite regress. So they declared victory and retreated.

But they needed some legitimizing link to Plato’s Dialogues in order to attest classical origins. So they took with them this ‘Least Presumptive’ definition of Knowledge and started a new Subject called Epistemology.

The study of Knowing while firmly resident in the Know. The absurdity had been winked away. It was back to business as usual.

Why was it so important to force a definition on the word ‘Know’? What’s wrong with ‘Business as Usual’?  

If you can’t claim to know what ‘Know’ means, you have a great deal of annoying explanations to give. And this can get very tiresome. As when you teach subjects claiming ‘Knowledge’. Subjects like Philosophy and Religion; Science and History; Logic and Law.

If you are not sure what ‘Know’ and ‘Not-Know’ mean, how do you plan to hold forth on: ‘True and False’? Or: Real and Unreal. Or the meaning of the words: ‘Meaning’ and ‘Word’.

Did you make sense of this morning’s Newspaper? Have you really understood a single word on this Page?

Including this very sentence about understanding a single word on this Page? [Is that a Self-Eating Expression showing its head?]

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Socrates: ‘The Most Vicious Of Circles’

So you ask a Professor of Epistemology for the definition of the word ‘Knowledge’.

He might give you list [a safe response] but odds are that on that list is the phrase ‘Justified True Belief’ or something very close. [The original translated phrase from the Classical Greek is ‘True Belief with an Account’].

What’s so special about ‘Justified True Belief? It is the closest thing we have to an original definition for the word ‘Knowledge’. And it first emerges in the Theaetetus, in Plato’s Dialogues. Hence it is the ‘Classic’ definition.

The Theaetetus is where it all began. It is the source, the Mother-Lode for this subject called Epistemology.

And the Theaetetus, the founding source for the classic definition of the word: ‘Knowledge’ is not about what ‘Knowledge’ is, but rather about what it is not. And why the word ‘Knowledge’ cannot be defined. [Read it]

Socrates asks Theaetetus, the meaning of the word ‘Knowledge’. Theaetetus proceeds to list the known disciplines, Geometry and Cobblery, the Sciences, et al.

Socrates stops him short: ‘But the question Theaetetus, was not what are the objects of knowledge..or sorts of knowledge..but the thing itself, knowledge, is, you fancy it is a small matter to discover the nature of knowledge? Is it not..the hardest?

After a lengthy and labored discussion of various definitions, ‘Justified True Belief’ is proposed, the one felt least presumptive of those explored.

Socrates himself does not propose an answer, staying instead with the negation. He offers Theaetetus his celebrated analogy of the barren midwife who can only help another give birth. Socrates continues:

Doesn’t it strike you as shameless to explain what knowing is like, when we don’t know what knowledge is?

The truth is, Theaetetus, that for some time past there has been a vicious taint in our discussion. Times out of numbers we have said ‘we know’, ‘we do not know’, ‘we have knowledge’, ‘we have no knowledge’, as if we could understand each other while we still know nothing about knowledge…

All that we have brought to about knowledge..our midwives skill pronounces to be mere wind eggs and not worth the rearing..

To tell us to get hold of something we already have in order to know something we are already thinking of suggests a state of the most absolute darkness..the most vicious of circles will be nothing compared to this injunction..

Having the good sense not to fancy you know what you do not know, for that and no more is all that my art can effect..’

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Immanuel Kant’s ‘Organic Contact Lenses’

Immanuel Kant [1724-1804] Bucknell University Gallery

Immanuel Kant’s work had much to do with the ideas of Knowledge and ‘Knowing’.

Kant tried to identify the ‘First Principles of Knowing’ itself, reaching back to Aristotle’s Principle of [Non] Contradiction and Categories [Cause, Necessity, Contingency, etc ].

Along with ‘Space’ and ‘Time’, the ground conditions of Sensibility, they made up the Kantian Grid.

You cannot but view the World through these fundamental constructions, said Kant. They are organic contact lenses, hard-wired processors, the immutable framework within which must arise all Knowing and Understanding.

But what about these conditions themselves? How does one see one’s own organic contact lenses? How does one ‘Know the Knowing’?

Unlike most philosophers, Kant was vividly alert to the Loop although he never took his own understanding to its necessary, implosive limit.

From Kant’s: ‘Critique of Pure Reason’:

If deduction of these conceptions is necessary, it must always be Transcendent. All attempts at an empirical deduction in regard to pure and a priori conceptions are in vain, and can only be done by one who does not understand the altogether peculiar nature of these conceptions.’

If you don’t see the significance of that qualification you will elaborate learnedly on the nature of Kant’s organic lenses while wearing them securely atop your nose.

And find yourself willy-nilly in the center of the vortex. Which is exactly where Universities are today.

[Kant was perhaps the first modern philosopher to use the word ‘Transcendent’ widely and in its proper meaning.]

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The Epistemological Pirouette

You are a restless seeker, a Philosophy-Junkie. And you want to know all about ‘Know’. You want to know what ‘Knowledge’ means.

Not to worry. There is such a subject. And it is called Epistemology. You’ve come to the right department.

Epistemology is the scholarly study of ‘Knowing’ while firmly resident in the Know. It is knowing all about ‘Knowing’ and ‘Knowledge’.

Can you smell the Loop?

Empistemology [‘Know’] and Ontology [‘Be’] are the twin foundations of Philosophy. Any grand discourse on Philosophy without a clear investigated statement about these two stances is not worth the paper it is written on.

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‘When I know that I know that I know’

‘There was a young man who said: ‘Though,

It seems that I know that I know,

What I would like to see,
is the ‘I’ that knows ‘Me’,

When I know that I know that I know.”

As for the limerick, I’m pretty sure I got that from one of Alan Watts’ passionate little paperbacks. In Sausalito. A long time ago.

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Gnana Marga: The Path Of Knowledge

Photograph from the 1800’s; South India. The failproof method used by Brahmin students to stay awake

What is so special about the word ‘Know’? A word for which, after 5000 years of Language, intriguingly overlapping with the birth of the Kali-Yuga, we still do not have a proper definition.

The  word ‘Know’ traces its roots directly back to the Latin Gnosis, which in turn traces back to the Sanskrit Gnana.

Why are the Religious Classes of every Culture, those granted closest access to the Deity, the Brahmins and the Pastors, the Rabbis and the Imams, always from the ‘Learned Class’?

This inner circle to the sanctum [did I forget the Professors?] whose proudest possession is the claim to ‘Know’?

Gnana Marga: The ‘Path of Knowledge’. All other Paths [the Yogic, Devotional, Service, et al] get you in the periphery, but the seal of conviction is impossible unless one goes through and past this word ‘Know’.

So what is it about this word ‘Know’?

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The Sway Of Presumption: ‘Life And Death’

We can give the Divide some more Gravitas. All talk of ‘Death’ is always and only done when ‘Alive’. You just can’t wink your way out of this one.

You really know nothing about ‘Death’ except as gossip from some very alive people.

All this is in effect a sleight-of-hand, a fast wave of the hand-kerchief by the Divide-Magician who hopes you are not looking too closely.

But this slip when carried forward in sprees of grand abstract elaborations [as in the University ] can get seriously misleading. If you start telescoping such situations, soon enough you will have totally lost the thread.

Yet no amount of double-talk will convince me otherwise that my dear great-aunt, bless her good soul, is resolutely dead.

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The Sway Of Presumption: ‘Awake And Asleep’

Cut once; get two. A pair is the first and minimal unit of division, the elemental DNA, the fundamental building block of every Man-Made Model. Models are fine and helpful. As long as you remember both ends of the Two.

If you can say: ‘I am asleep!’, that’s convincing evidence that you are awake. [Is that a Self-Eating Expression?]

The distinction of ‘Awake’ and ‘Asleep’ is always and only made in a wakeful state. 

I tell you about my dream when, and only when, both of us are awake. We know nothing about ‘Dream’ and ‘Sleep’ except as very wakeful ideas.

[Doctors reassuringly measure sleep-meters only when they are awake, thank you very much.]

None of this hair-splitting lessens the veracity of my pronouncement today that I slept like a baby last night.

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The Oldest Injunction In Language

‘Know Thyself’: Gnothi Seauton. In the Sanskrit: Atmanam Viddhi. You can find variants of it in every literate culture. The oldest, most ubiquitous injunction in Language.

But its original meaning bears no relationship to its contemporary interpretation, today’s La-La Land.

Self-Inquiry is an absurd idea. I can inquire about any and all things in this great and grand world of ours. Except inquire about me.

Self-Awareness? I can never be aware of that which is aware. I can be aware of anything but the source of my awareness.

Self-Knowledge? I can know about all things in this our magnificent cosmos. But I may never know myself.

Any ‘Self’ I Inquire about, am aware of or ‘Know’ is simply a confounding of ‘Object as Subject’.

The Loop is ‘I’ seeking ‘Me’.

Gnothi Seauton. The celebrated words on the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

The new Christian Theodosius razed it to the ground hoping to end all remnants of Paganism. It didn’t work.

Oscar Wilde proposed an appealing alternative, a big hit with the New-Age community: ‘Be Thyself’.

The Oak Ridge Atomic Research Center

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The Loop

Goofy vividly demonstrating the Self-Loop. If you understand what Goofy is up to, you understand the Self-Loop.
Goofy demonstrating the Self-Loop

I can Understand; but I may not try to Understand ‘Understanding’.

I can do a lot of things with ‘Understanding’. But I may not try to Understand it.

Mind may not mentate about Mind.

I can mentate about all things in this great and grand universe of ours. But I may not mentate about Mind.

Consciousness may not grasp at consciousness. Thought may not seek its beginnings in another thought. Concept may not conceive itself in another concept.

Logical Symbol may not grasp for its genealogy using other symbols of Logic, nor Mathematics in the axioms of Mathematics.

Language may not seek its source using Language. Word may not seek its meaning through other words.

I may not seek for the definition of  the word ‘Knowledge’ while in the ‘Know’. I may not search for the ground of ‘Being’ while in the ‘Be’.

And ‘I’ may not inquire about ‘Me’.

Do not confound the Loop with domesticated general-issue fallacies like ‘Circular Reasoning’ and such, a truncation far short of True-Nothing. I’ll get to them when we look at the ground assumptions of Epistemology and Ontology.

‘Giving Birth To Myself’
Meditation: The Original Laboratory

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Park Avenue

You can’t study the so-called ‘Unconscious’ while firmly residing in the Conscious. The very division is one made in a conscious state.

But if you can convincingly hold-forth on the conscious ‘Unconscious’ in addition to the merits of mentating about Mind, your talent should not go unnoticed.

The most convincing Couch Therapists all live on Park Avenue.

‘Consciousness’ as terminus is a very popular offering among contemporary Gurus in India. It is understandable, intuitively suggestive and can be endlessly mystified. You can get stuck in some imagined and conceptualized ‘Consciousness’ for a very long time before you wake up to it.

I Listened in recently on a major convention of international scientists on ‘Consciousness and Science’ presided over by the Dalai Lama. The eminent scientists have assured the viewers that they are close to cracking the code. The word Self-Reference never occurred once.

You know, there is actually a book titled ‘Consciousness Explained’ by a chaired professor of a famous university. I can’t wait to buy it and get myself a little education. Once it’s out on paperback, I’ll let you know.

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Wilhelm Leibniz: ‘The Twin Truths’

Step into my old Porche Convertible for a long drive south to Hanover, Germany, 1,000 kilometers and a 100 years away. Let’s go meet Dr. Wilhelm Leibniz.


Here is Dr. Leibniz on his celebrated ‘Twin Truths’:

The immediate awareness of our existence and our thoughts furnishes us with the first a posteriori truths, or truths of Fact, the first experiences, while identical propositions embody the first a priori truths, or truths of Reason, the first illuminations.

Neither admits of proof and each may be called immediate.’

‘Transcendental Unity of Self-Consciousness’? ‘The immediate awareness of our existence and our thoughts’?

So. Am I ‘immediately aware’ of my ‘Immediate Awareness’?

How far do I have to Back-Step?

No. We are not in the Himalayas amidst a mystical mountain-sect. Nor the corner of Haight and Ashbury.

We are in Hanover, at the Study of Dr. Wilhelm von Leibniz, a founder of Modern Logic and the Mathematical Calculus.

If you want someone to blame for the big zero you got on your beginning Calculus course, here’s the man.

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‘The Highest Principle Of Human Cognition’

The idea of Consciousness, its centrality in the minds of the most influential modern thinkers, has never been fully appreciated. Nor their short-stops.

Immanuel Kant [1724-1804] Bucknell University Gallery

So come with me now to Königsberg, Prussia, circa 1750 CE.

Immanuel Kant from his ‘Critique of Pure Reason’, a volume that helped mark the domain of Academic Philosophy for several generations:

The ‘I Think’ must accompany all my representations..I call it pure apperception..because it is a is in all acts of Consciousness one and the same and unaccompanied by it no representation can exist for me.

The unity of this apperception I call the Transcendental Unity of Self- Consciousness..and this the highest principle in all human cognition.

So how does this ‘Unity’ catch itself?

Immanuel Kant, unlike most philosophers, was alert to the Loop but back-stepped at the Cliff’s Edge. He was after-all a University Professor and a devoutly religious one at that.

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The First Law Of Consciousness

‘Consciousness’: from the Latin ‘Con Scire‘: ‘to be awake; to know’; and related to Cognitionem, as in the words ‘Cognition’ and ‘Science’.

The First Law of Consciousness states that you may not investigate your consciousness while being in an actively conscious state.

You cannot, however hard you blink, wiggle or scheme, stand outside Consciousness to orate upon it. If you feel hemmed in, that is the idea.

If you can consciously point to something as your ‘Consciousness’, by that very fact, what you have pointed to cannot be your consciousness.

You cannot be conscious of being ‘Conscious’. You can be conscious. That’s it.

To be conscious of being ‘Conscious’ is the high road to fatal self-contradictions. An unwarranted, illegitimate doubling that makes what is simple and unclouded into a belligerent complexity.

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What Is An ‘Explanation’?

‘Explanation’ is from the Latin Ex-planationem: ‘to make plain, to flatten [planus].

Everyone wants one, feels obliged to ask for one, and acts deprived if denied one. [‘Why does my bottom hurt so, Mom?’ ‘Because I just spanked you, Darling!’]

An ‘Explanation’ flattens things out so that they fit within a Modeled-View. Just like plaining a piece of irregular wood.

In this tripped age where Reason is confounded with the Rational, the most insistent and socially-sanctified demand is for an ‘Explanation’.

‘Oh! That makes sense!’. In other words, an explanation falls in line, takes its assigned slot within the broad mix of paradigms, preferences, prejudices, conveniences and cultural cues that grant a view acceptance, and when tightly in conformance, applause.

When you say: ‘That explanation makes sense!’, it means it tucks nicely into your backpack, logically fits [i.e., ‘is consistent’] within the umbrella of convention, views widely accepted as valid.

And the base of this umbrella, as we will see’, is the assumption of an Independent and  Separated ‘Self’. The ‘Subject-Object’ Divide.

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What Is a Model?

‘The Thinker’
Rodin Museum, Paris

The word ‘Model’ is etymologically related to the Sanskrit Māyā, from the root Ma: To Build’. And less directly to ‘Man’ and ‘Mind’.

A ‘Model’ is a creation, a re-construction of the original, a re-presentation, not the Real McCoy.

A toy-car is a model. So is a doll’s-house. But the most important models are mental-models, the ones we build inside our heads using things that ‘double’.

Sign and symbol that refer and come alive in such building blocks as the Alphabet, the Number System and other such kits of complex referencing signs. All mediums in fact conducive to referential traffic.

An understanding built on assumptions and corresponding beliefs, conceptualized in binary structures [True: False; Up: Down] and expressed in the vocabulary of signs and symbols, typically language and logic, is called a ‘Model’.

So what is my first assumption? That there is such a thing as a ‘Me’ with such things called ‘assumptions’ stuffed inside my head. Sort of like socks in a drawer.

Watch out. To elaborate breezily on Model as an ‘Interpretation’ and equate a Modeled-Reality to an ‘Interpreted Reality’ is to miss the point. The very notion of ‘Interpretation’ is a Modeled-Idea as is the notion of Model. Fresh Academics and Deconstructionists are the most susceptible to this take.

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Everytime I feel dispirited about the future of this creature called ‘Man’, I reach for this learned quote:

One aspect that sharply differentiates Man from Nature is his highly developed capacity for thought, feeling and deliberate action. Here and there in other animals, rudiments of this capacity may occasionally be found, but the full blown development that is called Mind is unmatched elsewhere in Nature‘.

We don’t quite know if a Giraffe has a Mind. But we are absolutely sure that we have one.

Our Mind told us so.

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‘If you use your Mind to study Reality, you won’t understand either your Mind or Reality’ quipped the famously laconic Bodhidharman, the first Patriarch of Zen.

I don’t know what Mind is. But I do know this. Every time I say: ‘Gotcha!’, every time I use Mind to hold forth on the Nature of Mind, I am back in my circular whirl.

Very wise-men have been trying to get a handle on this thing called ‘Mind’ for a few millennia and have gotten nowhere.

Divine origin? The center of cognition, emotion and volition? The firing of synapse on brain tissue?

But this ‘Mind’ of mine [which of course I know exists] keeps giving me the slip. And to further confuse matters, Folks Who Know say that Mind is also the depository of ‘Thought’, the dodgy character we just met.

I can’t see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, touch it. And yet, darn it all, it feels awfully real to me. This ghost behind my nose and between my ears.

And anything I pick and label as ‘Mind’ using this Mind of mine cannot be Mind, can be anything but Mind.

So. ‘What is ‘Mind’?

As I said, that’s about where the wise-men left it.

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Vitruvian Man, Leonardo Da Vinci, Circa 1490 CE, Gallerie dell'Academia, Venice
Vitruvian Man, Leonardo Da Vinci, Circa 1490 CE,
Gallerie dell’Academia, Venice

Homer’s Odyssey begins with the word ‘Man’ [Andra, from the Attic-Greek Aner, as in the English Anthropo].

One among the various derivations of the word ‘Man’ [as in the Sanskrit ManushManas] is as: ‘That which has Mind’.

How is ‘Man’ different say, from a Mattress? Man is different because Man alone has Mind. This has been the traditional answer since antiquity.

Man is different because Man alone ‘Thinks’.

The defining attribute of Man is his Mind. And with this Mind, Man constructs his World as Model. And its central character is his model of himself as ‘Man’.

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Cogito Ergo Sum!

You and I like to think. So what? So what can happen if we get very attached to this Thinking Business?

René_Descartes, [1596-1650]
The Louvre, Paris

The moon-landing was faked. Doughnuts widen arteries. My mother really loves me. Perhaps, perhaps not.

But I don’t have these insidious doubts about whose thoughts are bouncing around in my head.

The thoughts in my head are my thoughts. What happens in my mind is mine! mine! mine!

There is nothing else on the planet that is so taken for granted as belonging to ‘Me’ as ‘My Thoughts’. That’s why it is so real. As long as I have my thoughts, I have me.

I can wear your cuff-links and you can borrow my cologne but my thought is my thought and your thought is your thought.

I might own a Bentley and only leg into silk underwear. But my thoughts are closer to me than both.

So it was that Rene Descartes, founder of Cartesian method and Father of Western Academic Philosophy exclaimed:

Thinking. At last I have discovered it- Thought. This alone is inseparable from me.’

‘I am Thinking. Therefore I am’: Cogito ergo sum.

Voice [Vac] along with ‘Thought’ is the other medium that is attached very closely to the notion of authorship. When I think, I think. When I speak, I speak. See the later Posts on Language, a medium exceptionally vulnerable to the Self-Loop.

René Descartes, like Aristotle before him and Kant and Leibniz after, and in sharp contrast to most other philosophers, knew when he was edging the territory of the absurd. His rationale was more nuanced than the  standard academic bumper-sticker interpretation. I’ll get to it later in his less-known letters.

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‘Hide And Seek’

If your pulse doesn’t race, you should be seeing a Doctor

Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Fellini’s: ‘La Dolce Vita’

My entire school education on Dharmic Discipline was summarized in the travesty of insight: ‘Desire is the cause of all suffering’.

So how does one: ‘Desire to Not-Desire’?

‘Desire is the cause of all suffering’ is a literal take on the Buddhist ‘Second Noble Truth’, if you are curious as to where this beam of light came from.

‘Detachment’ is the single most emphasized injunction in the Dharma. So how do you intend to detach if you are attached to ‘Detachment’?

How do you ‘Remember To Forget’?

How do you play ‘Hide And Seek’ with yourself?

What denatured Elysium do these pilgrims seek sans wine, women and earthly-folly?

The correct formulation should be: ‘Detachment from all things-including ‘Detachment’, a full-fledged Self-Eating Expression.

But what happens if you attach? Especially to something called ‘Thinking’? See the next Post.

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What Is A ‘Thought’, Socrates?

Socrates, [469-399 BCE],
The Louvre, Paris

When Thaetetus asks Socrates to describe ‘ Thinking’, Socrates replies:

As a discourse that the mind carries on with itself about any subject it is considering.

You must take this explanation as coming from an ignoramus. but I have a notion that, when the mind is thinking, it is simply talking to itself, asking questions and answering them, and saying yes or no.

When it reaches a decision-which may come slowly or in a sudden rush-when doubt is over and the two voices affirm the same thing, then we call that its ‘judgment.’

So I should describe thinking as discourse, and judgment as a statement pronounced, not aloud to someone else but silently to oneself.

I can silently unfold the phrase: ‘Elvis Lives!’ in my mind syllable by syllable in complete comprehension of its meaning.

Mental Verbalization is ‘I’ talking to ‘Me’. Monologue as Dialogue.

A particular, often paralyzing bain of the Reflective Man.

Japanese Zen Training especially in the Martial Arts seeks a state it calls Mushin [‘No-Mind, No-Thought’]. The Chinese synonym, Wuxin, begins with the character for ‘Not’.

Importantly, there is absolutely nothing ‘wrong’ with Thought, the notions of ‘right and wrong’ being themselves binary expressions in Thought.

I note this because there are numerous Dharmic schools that make the muting of ‘Thought’ a measure of success, a consequential error.

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What is the ‘Orangeness’ in an Orange?

What is common between a sliced and a peeled Orange? A ripe and a rotten Orange? A nibbled Orange and a fresh one?

A picture of an Orange, the sound ‘Orange Juice’, the taste of Orange pop, the smell of Orange peel, the touch of Orange pip, the letters ‘O R A N G E’, on a page. The negation: ‘Not-Orange’.

Orangeness is an idea, a concept. A thought.

But then, what is an ‘Orange’?

‘I don’t exactly know what Orangeness is Professor, but I sure know how to pick an Orange’.

Or do I?

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What Is A ‘Thought’, Dr. Kant?

Immanuel Kant [1724-1804], whose roots go back directly to Aristotle, defined the domain of Academic Philosophy for over two centuries.

‘Thought’ proffered Immanuel Kant ‘is cognition by means of conception’. [See the later Posts on his: ‘Critique Of Pure Reason’]

What’s a ‘Conception’? That sounds like a difficult idea. Let’s start with ‘Concept’.

A ‘Concept’ says the Dictionary, is a: ‘a General Notion or Idea; a Conception’.

Great. So what’s an ‘Idea’? The Dictionary says it’s a: ‘Thought, Conception or Notion.’

We’ll, OK. So what’s a ‘Conception’? The Dictionary says it’s a: ‘Notion, Idea, Concept’.

Cognition is a concept. A Concept is that which is ‘conceptually differentiable’. But ‘conceptually differentiable’ is itself a concept.

A concept has a public understanding while ‘conception’ is just a private view. Yet concept is for you a conception and conception becomes a concept in the dictionary, unchanged regardless of who looks at it.

Concept; Conception; Concept of Conception; Conception of Concept. All Concepts.

Or are they Conceptions?

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What Is A ‘Thought’, Professor?

Courtesy IBM Corporation

Do you know what a ‘Thought’ is?

I don’t. [But then, nor do Universities which do a fine trade in refining it.]

The problem is that every time I work up a thought to nail this buzzing fly called ‘Thought’, I’ve stuck myself in a very unpleasant Loop.

This thing I have nailed as ‘Thought’ by thinking about it, by that very fact, cannot be ‘Thought’.

Is :’Don’t Think!’ a Thought? Or Not? What do you Think?

It’s origin is unknown [grab that next thought please, and ask it where it came from].

It’s stage can’t be located. [Inside my head? Beneath the sink? In Kiev?]

It’s terminus is not found. [Where do all those thoughts go, like stairs in an escalator?].

I can’t see it. I can’t hear it. I can’t smell it. And any thinking about it, muddles it more.

No self-respecting scientist would take seriously something to which he cannot give the simplest of coordinates.

My Thought? My Mind? My Consciousness? My Voice? Are you certain it is your thought you are thinking right now?

There is nothing I understand less than this thing called ‘Thought’. Yet nothing is more real to me than this which I understand the least.

Dodgy Fellow, this ‘Thought’. So try and not think a thought for the next sixty seconds.

[At least one noted Philosopher majisterially defines a Philosopher as one who: ‘Thinks about Thinking’. It is roundly celebrated in academic circles as marking a penetrating summary insight.]

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The Very Slippery Meta-Trinity

Thought, Mind and Consciousness: The Meta-Trinity.

‘Meta’, from the Greek, originally meant ‘Beyond’ as in Aristotle’s ‘Metaphysics’. Lately though it is a prefix assigned almost exclusively to reflective, self-referential states. Metadata is ‘Data about data’; Metatext is ‘Text about text’.

[Wouldn’t you know, now there is a new word, sophisticated and mysterious, heard in Academic corridors called ‘Metacognition’. I’ll leave you to figure it out.]

There are two aspects which define the Meta-Trinity.

First, their self-referential nature. And second, their intimate, inviolable relationship to ‘Me’.

Any trek to the Symbol ‘0’ requires extensive time spent in intimate [and not always pleasant] proximity with these three fellows.

So let’s take a few Posts to get to know them.

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Vishnu’s Dream

Vishnu’s Dream
Ankhor Wat [Yaśodharapura]

Cambodia [Khmer], 12th Century

I’ll start with a story. Everyone loves a story. Especially old stories. One about Gods and Dreams.

Here is my favorite version of Genesis [Latin: literally, ‘Birth’].

A Story of Creation is told in the Vishnu-Purāṇa where Vishnu as primordial divinity is stretched in slumber on the cosmic ocean of milk.

He rests his head on the abyssal serpent Ananta [‘Endless’] and dreams a great and grand dream of the universe.

Vishnu is dreaming a great and grand dream that He is dreaming a great and grand dream, and all men and women, all living things in Vishnu’s dream are in turn dreaming a great and grand dream of the Universe in which Vishnu is dreaming a great and grand dream.

[Lots of meticulous synchronization needed; but then that is why Vishnu is Divinity while you and I take the bus to work.]

Vishnu awakes and a lotus unfolds. Brahma, the divinity of Creation emerges and rules the created world of Vishnu for 100 cosmic years [Maha-Manvantara: 311 trillion human years, rounded-off].

At its end, Vishnu closes his eyes and returns to slumber. The lotus folds and the universe and all that is in it return to their source in the Cosmic Dreamer. In time Vishnu awakes, a lotus unfolds, a new Dream begins.

Stop. [I kinda thought you might try this…]

You may not interpret the myth of Vishnu’s Dream in any conventional way. For any commentary you have on this myth is itself part of the myth.

If ‘All is Dream!’ so is my claim that: ‘All is Dream’.

You reading these lines, right here, just now, about this Dream, according to this Dream, is in the middle of this very same Cosmic Dream.

To not see that is to slip into the Self-Loop. And this Site is all-about the Loop.

Now you may choose to not wake-up in the Dream in which case Vishnu will dream that you chose to remain asleep. And that’s fine too.

You know, in the early days before the now favored Abrahamic Seven-Day Creation story, Hindu-Purāṇic, Egyptian and Greek Myths all carried multiple versions of Man’s origins.

And they typically involved two themes: Dreams and Incest. Cronus and his sister Rhea fathering Zeus [the Greek cognate of the Rig-Vedic Dyauas]; Isis, sister and wife of Osiris, the first Gods of ancient Egypt and so on.

Why so? Well, you can’t dream your neighbors dream. The same notion floats the incest theme. ‘The One’ had to double, divide itself, to get a partner or a play-mate. I’ll get to Myths and Symbols at the tail end of this Site.

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The Self-Loop

The intent of the below Posts is to illustrate and elaborate on the Self-Loop and its pervasive presence across every discipline.

It’s important to get a firm fix on this idea of the Self-Loop. The Symbol ‘0’ itself was put-together in
its recognition and as a way to exit it.

I’m laying out the Posts from my file-boxes, as-is and largely unedited. The material could use an update. I’ll get around to it once the file-boxes are empty.

The actual rounding of the Circle is picked up under ‘The Method’. But it’s a good idea to browse these Posts first.

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