Sub-Cognitive Fragments (#1)

There is a craving that is neither simple stupidity, nor its opposite: I want to think. It might be designated blogger’s hunger (or curse). Though trivially pathetic, it is not only that.

In the end, there is no case to be made for philosophy, unless it can teach us how to think. Reciprocally, anything that can teach us to think is true philosophy. (That philosophy would not be mistaken for a joke.)

There is a weak interpretation of this demand, which is quite easily met. If the only thing requested is a discipline, such that thought — which is already happening  — is guided, and corrected, then logic suffices to provide it. The fact that philosophy typically understands its responsibility this way fully accounts for its senescence and marginality.

The craving to think is not, primarily, an appetite for correction, but for initiation. It wants thinking to begin, to activate, and to propagate. More thinking comes first (or fails to). What is required is a method to make thought happen. The philosophy thus invoked is a systematic and communicable practice of cognitive auto-stimulation. I do not believe this philosophy yet exists.

There are candidates for para-philosophy, which is to say, for things that makes thought happen. From the perspective of doctrinaire neoreaction, one might begin with the fatal trichotomy: religion, heredity, and catallaxy. Ritual traditions, eugenic programs, or market incentives can be proposed as social solutions to cognitive lethargy, but none promise a tight-loop catalysis. (Each nevertheless deserves extended attention, elsewhere.)

Any para-philosophy is a cognitive loose-loop, and there are a great number of these. They range from scholastic and physical training regimes, through psycho-chemical modification, to cognitive science and artificial intelligence research. We know that geo-historically, thought has been made to happen. What we do not (yet) know is how to make more of it, or how to address the urgent craving: I want to think.

Thinking is so rare and difficult that it is always tempting to be diverted into the question: What is messing with our brains? There is no reason to think such an inquiry is doomed to fruitlessness, but if it eventually offers solutions — rather than excuses — they are almost certain to be long-loop remedies.

Philosophy as cognitive method is an instruction manual for using the brain. There are many disciplines that can help to explain exactly why we do not already have one, since this is a fact that is roughly coincident with sophisticated naturalism in general. Biology has ensured that the privileged user of our brains is not ‘us’.

The possession of such a ‘mind manual’ would define a self-improving AI. As technology threatens to bypass us, it would surely be surprising — and even despicable — if people didn’t increasingly plot to take over their own thought processes, and run them. That is the future of philosophy.

A ‘private’ motive for acceleration is that right now, urgently, I want to know how to be able to make myself think.

With pseudo-syphilitic arrogance I insist: This is the sole philosophical position.

November 11, 2013admin 43 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Philosophy

TAGGED WITH : ,

43 Responses to this entry

  • pseudo-chrysostom Says:

    >how to address the urgent craving: I want to think.

    pen and paper roleplaying games

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    A solution not without its shortcomings

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 11th, 2013 at 5:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • Muad'Dib Says:

    “The possession of such a ‘mind manual’ would define a self-improving AI. As technology threatens to bypass us, it would surely be surprising — and even despicable — if people didn’t increasingly plot to take over their own thought processes, and run them. That is the future of philosophy.”

    Hmmm…a blend of ‘Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer’ (NB. ketamine and bike rides dont mix well) and the Method of Loci with transcranial magnetic stimulation might be a starter.

    O/T:the Gonzo-Right discovers Dark Enlightenment
    http://mypostingcareer.com/forums/topic/7580-the-dark-enlightenmentreactosphereppt/

    ‘Speaking of nick land, who blogs at http://www.xenosystems.net/, I’m not quite sure what his deal is. He’s quickly moved to the top of the “dark enlightenment” food chain, and now serves as a kind of sage for the whole movement, but I’m not quite sure I can even figure out what his aims are. I’ve only skimmed his blog, but he seems to be some sort of hardcore futurist, waiting for the singularity or something. As far as his traditionalist credentials, he’s proven them by moving to Shanghai, because Shanghai and Singapore are the future ( http://darkecologies…ban-future-2-0/ ). Not sure how this is any better than the rest of the educated west, who are becoming unmoored from their homelands and traditions, but hey, he thinks naggers are dumb and that we should have a cool-ass-reactionary-neo-futurist-accelerationist dictator, or something. He apparently has some kind of success in academia in continental philosophy, so maybe there’s some excitement that someone more than a bored computer programmer can serve as their sage.’

    [Reply]

    Diogenes Reply:

    Reactionaries are dumb, throw rocks at them.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The John Lilly reference is very acute, thanks. (It’s a book I’d forgotten, but was once truly taken by.)

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 11th, 2013 at 6:22 pm Reply | Quote
  • Diogenes Says:

    Philosophy because to use the word ‘education’ for anything edifying in this climate is beyond perverse.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Yes, and also because edification is something quite different.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 11th, 2013 at 6:24 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    I’m struggling to come up with a cogent reply (lots of related ideas, none satisfactorily formulated), but how do you view Deleuze then – as para-philosophy? It feels like you’re asking for an exoteric witches flight.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Deleuze is, I’m sure, philosophically constructable.

    Why exoteric? (I can almost see …) Actually, I suspect that philosophy might need to surrender some of its pretension to public authority, if it is to become initiatory.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 12th, 2013 at 12:09 am Reply | Quote
  • Artemisia Says:

    How does error fit into this (brilliant, actually) pseudo-syphilitic philosophical position?

    It seems to me that philosophy as beginning, activation, propagation оf thought, short of being “edification” will surely sooner or later (maybe always) be falling into “errancy” (I mean, really, how long can it loop without becoming errant? And anyway, it’s not going to “capture” the universe or “encompass” its grounds anyway). This errancy will then become the foundation (at least background) of new loops of thought and retroactively shape the universe (at the very least, that part of it which is us)…

    I am not sure what this entails though (besides excitement tingling somewhere in my ribcage and perhaps an incentive to get drunk out of joy).

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Correction is indispensable, but still secondary, and it cannot itself supply that which improves through correction. If I’m understanding your line of exploration, I have to agree that initial thought will — by near-necessity — be errant, and that errancy could in principle seize its methods of correction, in order to lead them elsewhere (so long as the process can be made to work).

    [Reply]

    Artemisia Reply:

    It’s not just initial thought – there will have to be errant elsewheres, lots of them (if the process can be made to work). Now, obviously an account of how it works and why philosophy can/should only work thus could be produced (I might even have a tiny inkling of how to produce that). But the manual needs more than just a “theory” component (whatever that means); it has to bite and infect (sure, why not with lycanthropy). I wonder if manuals can be effectively given fangs. And made to bite. Now maybe they can; I’ve been bitten by text. I’ve even been bitten by Kant, much to my horror. But there’s so much in these bites that was (apparently) contingent on setting and even more that came from an especially strong desire to be bitten and infected with more and more pathologies in the first place (as if thought was already in the loop, only in need of acceleration) – and so I remain not-fully-convinced of the biting power of text per se.

    So, when it comes to bites, I have so far struggled (and failed) to not make things depend heavily on interaction with thought-provoking fanged people. It’s great fun, but I need to do better – living or undead, people will go away and I’ll remain with my thirst for thought.

    (It also crosses my mind that Kant is a wonderful biter – with him in your veins, all you want is for this to STOP NOW. This should precipitate quite a number attempts to think yourself out of him.)

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Textual contagion is (in Kant-speak) heteronomous, so the circuitry gets straggly …

    Posted on November 12th, 2013 at 12:51 am Reply | Quote
  • Puzzle Pirate (@PuzzlePirate) Says:

    Could a vector of neoraction please be respectable white ethnocentrism?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2493491/White-supremacist-Craig-Cobbs-DNA-test-reveals-hes-14-African.html

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Ethnocentrism (tending inevitably to racial socialism) is always most attractive to the losers in any group, with consequences akin to those found by the Daily Mail. Your hopes are Quixotic. Better to treat it as a filter, or centrifuge, in order to build an Outer Right characterized by cosmopolitan realism and intellectual sophistication. (I’m fairly confident that no one reading this blog wants to live in Leith ND.)

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    The Leith police dissmisseth us,
    I’m thankful sir to say,
    The Leith Police dismisseth us,
    They thought we sought to stay,
    The Leith Police dismisseth us,
    We both sighed sighs apiece,
    And the sighs we sighed as we waved goodbye,
    Was the size of the Leith Police.

    [Reply]

    Puzzle Pirate (@PuzzlePirate) Reply:

    OK, how about a respectable version of white etho-“I don’t want my people or my culture to be annihilated”

    🙂

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    There you go with the impossible demands …

    Diogenes Reply:

    If I remember correctly, the riposte to white nationalism in the Cathedral series goes something like this: everybody’s grandkids are gonna end up with face tentacles anyway, so why bother?

    vimothy Reply:

    Problem with neoreaction is that it’s not actually that reactionary . . .

    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    to riff on the old adage, you might not be interested in ethnic solidarity, but other ethnics are.

    neanderthalic homonids are perhaps the only ethnity on the planet that does not have a strongly overriding instinct for self identified in-group preference, including (or especially even) east asians, askanazim, or other mongoloids.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 12th, 2013 at 1:23 am Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    I also want to see “The Brain: A User’s Manual.” Many undocumented features cry out for, well, documentation. This will never emerge from the horribly blinkered and sterile minds of academic psychologists, even though theirs are exactly the necessary tools. I am bitter.

    Rants aside, I assume you’ve tried to use brute intentional force to make yourself think, yes? Something like a 30-day trial, where you attempt to instill a habit of thinking every time you see some trigger by simply doing so whenever you see said trigger?

    So, what went wrong?

    Historically, I think what you’re supposed to do is physically hang around thinkers, so that their thoughts provoke your own, and so any dregs of spontaneous thought in yourself are dragged out and amplified by the soundboard method.

    [Reply]

    Diogenes Reply:

    I’ve been thinking that the use of what I’ve come to call “linguistic gestalts” is one possible approach. The first time I read “America is a communist country” (can’t remember if that’s Moldbug or Land), I flew into a paroxysm of boiling, burning thought and re-evaluation.

    Taking a proposition that is prima facie contradictory to everything presupposed to be the case, running with it, and seeing how what looked like a rabbit is in fact a duck.

    These are the kinds of things I find useful philosophical triggers, anyway.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Much as I’d like to take the credit for the blaze in your neocortex, it’s Moldbug who lit that match.

    Cultural stimulus (of this kind) is a perfect example of para-philosophical incitement to thought: extremely effective, but too serendipitous to succumb to reliable method (very vague heuristics are the best you get, with a tendency to dampen out until the next fortuitous encounter).

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    I deal with the serendipity by raising the odds, actively searching out new scholastic thedes.

    However, I think the mechanics of this kind of serendipity show that it is necessary to have some fodder for thinking: it is all but impossible to spontaneously create fodder. Logic goes premise-logic-conclusion, which suggests to inspire thought properly requires a truly novel, a truly independent premise, or observation.

    On the gripping hand I’ve had some success by patterning my searches across my held premises based on what the mismatches with these kinds of novel premises felt like. (Personal example, ‘taxation is theft’). The mismatch or kink exists even if I haven’t yet found the novel premise to pry it open with. For example, almost everyone argues circularly about consciousness. Materialists assume away subjectivity and dualists assume subjectivity cannot be physical. I managed to figure out how I was doing that and stop. It felt like picking at a burr by scraping the materialist presumptions against my dualist inclinations, until I could see under both of them.

    It seems like what you’re looking for might be not thought per se but particularly high quality thought. Taleb-style sacred thought.

    Posted on November 12th, 2013 at 1:52 am Reply | Quote
  • Chux Says:

    Must this motive be initiatory? For instance, the pathologically obsessive brain might tend to recurrently process an individual object, yet the ever-shifting modality of these instances of processing forms over time stabilizes. The subprocess of stabilizing the object of one’s philosophizing seems to be cloistered within this larger goal of initiating the cognitive trajectory. What do you think? Perhaps I just missed your claim re:// this.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I’m finding it hard to disagree with anything you’re saying here, which makes me wonder whether I’m understanding the objection.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 12th, 2013 at 1:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artemisia Says:

    Well, the circuitry will then have to reintegrate the heteronomity which leads it out of Kant’s loop (dunno through if that will make it “autonomous” or whatever – I think not) and move on, slightly less messily.

    I’ll go try that in practice.

    [Reply]

    Artemisia Reply:

    For the record – thought-initiation and perpetuation failed (although not as miserably as feared) due to the accursed (and possibly inevitable) desire to communicate the thoughts initiated and perpetuated, whether by writing, speech, or splitting skull open before a large crowd comprising my philosophy department. Lack of literaty talent hindered the first, lack of ability to speak coherently stopped the second, fear – the third.

    Something has to be done with the desire to connect, network, transcend singular humanity and “mindmeld” in order to perpetuate thought. Until I find a way to do that.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 12th, 2013 at 4:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jack Crassus Says:

    Somehow, this post reminds me of Less Wrong style metacognition, though initiates in that cult seem to have pruned their mind of instinct while they imagine they are learning to think better.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The tendency to reduce cultivation to pruning is a big part of the topic.

    [Reply]

    Jack Crassus Reply:

    This reminds me of abulafia in Foucalt’s Pendulum – a computer for generating pseudo-random spurious connections.

    To have new thoughts, lower your scruples to accept randomness. The permutations are endless. Are you feeling lucky?

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 12th, 2013 at 7:25 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jack Crassus Says:

    Initiation, motivation, value – these things are not rational, they come from the gut, the chest, the heart. Initiation is only one step from the “why”, and the why is ineffable.

    The aphorism seems a good tool to commune with the gut, a foundation which the brain may build a cathedral on top of.

    Can we build a motivation machine, a machine to generate whys?

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 13th, 2013 at 9:20 am Reply | Quote
  • Chux Says:

    More simply put: what makes ‘initiation’ dissociable from the other aspects of thinking/philsophizing? And if this dissociation is made, why is initiation somehow privileged over those other aspects in your analysis?

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 13th, 2013 at 11:27 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jozsef Says:

    “This reminds me of abulafia in Foucalt’s Pendulum – a computer for generating pseudo-random spurious connections. ”

    And this reminds me of something in quine. Truth and falsity are equinumerous. There are as many truths and falsehoods. But truth as such is uninteresting. We are interested in interesting truth. As such, spurious connection or connection for connection’s sake is uninteresting.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 14th, 2013 at 6:36 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    The Knowledge – of the worlds best guides. The Humble London Cabby.

    What is needed is to map and learn the 320 runs, the 20,000
    landmarks, the 25,000 streets, the equivalent of the Knowledge of London.

    Just the mapping would be the work of a lifetime, and open the doors you
    seek. And it’s work that could be taught and passed on.

    Just defining these would open doors:

    – runs

    -landmarks

    -streets

    Defining, mapping, learning then teaching a few of each is the work of a lifetime.

    These are the best cabbies in the world.

    Here’s a well needed landmark for all: Humility. How to get there without being craven or seen as weak is the work of at least one man’s lifetime.

    http://www.theknowledgetaxi.co.uk/

    [Reply]

    Diogenes Reply:

    Well, if it so happens that I learn to read and speak Urdu in the future, I look forward to receiving the wisdom of London cabbies.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 14th, 2013 at 12:44 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    I held it truth, with him who sings
    To one clear harp in divers tones,
    That men may rise on stepping-stones
    Of their dead selves to higher things.

    What’s the problem? Why are you fishing? You know the answer to this better than anyone else here.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 15th, 2013 at 2:07 am Reply | Quote
  • John Hannon Says:

    “Psycho-chemical modification” will be more or less of a “cognitive loose-loop” depending on the chemical, with the chemical producing the tightest loop giving you something like this to make you think –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdeYJSOdDKY

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 15th, 2013 at 3:39 am Reply | Quote
  • laofmoonster Says:

    Bootstrapping thought in the abstract sounds difficult, it’s like telling someone, “say something funny”. There needs to be something worth thinking about, some incentive. Use real-world goals as an instrument to improve intelligence, reversing the orthogonality you argued against previously. The trichotomy is a good starting point. I’d also take an evopsych approach to the problem. When is intelligence selected for? When are other traits selected for? Our monkey brains may be limited, but identifying those limits is a good first step to eliminating them.

    [Reply]

    laofmoonster Reply:

    http://www.xenosystems.net/monkey-business/
    It seems I am late to this party, means-ends reversal has already been addressed.

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 24th, 2013 at 8:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    How’s your Queneau? Mine is useless, but I have read an Italo Calvino essay entitled ‘The Philosophy of Raymond Queneau’. I offer it more as a preliminary response than something I am in general agreement with:

    ‘Another highly fallacious idea which nevertheless is very popular nowadays is the equivalence that has been established between inspiration, exploration of the subconscious and liberation; between chance, automatic reaction and freedom. Now this inspiration which consists in blindly obeying every single impulse is in reality a form of slavery. The classical writer composing a tragedy by observing a certain number of rules with which he is familiar is freer than the poet who writes down whatever flits through his head and is enslaved to other rules which he is not aware of.’

    […]

    From the same family [of literary madmen], certainly, is the utopian writer Charles Fourier, in whom Queneau took an interest on several occasions. One of these essays analyses the bizarre calculations of his ‘series’ which are the basis of the social projects in Fourier’s Harmony. Queneau’s intention here was to prove that Engels, when he put Fourier’s ‘mathematical epic’ on the same level as Hegel’s ‘dialectical epic’, was thinking of the utopian Charles not of his contemporary Joseph Fourier, the famous mathematician. After piling up proof after proof in support of his thesis, he concludes that perhaps his thesis does not stand up after all and that Engels really was talking about Joseph. This is a typical Queneau gesture: he is not so much interested in the triumph of his thesis, as in recognising a logic and consistency even in the most paradoxical argument […]

    In all these experiences Queneau’s attitude is that of the explorer of imaginary universes, carefully picking up their most paradoxical details with the amused eye of the Pataphysicist, but without cutting himself off from the possibility of noticing amongst all this a glimmer of genuine poetry or genuine knowledge.

    Now, there is obviously much more to say about ‘inspiration’, including the decision to run with the Fourier surname coincidence (engineering?), but what the above suggests to me is that the ‘trigger’ for thought is part of a larger process which in itself has to be initiated. I felt your treatment here of para-philosophy was somewhat disingenuous as it doesn’t make any attempt to consider the formalised nature of many of these systems (rituals) or exercises. There are procedures – coincidence engineering or, more broadly, the subjunctive thought (the IF) followed by (continued) suspension of disbelief is, as you know, one option – which are more effective than sitting around (drinking) and waiting for ‘inspiration’. But this is a starting point – does it automatically lead onto the right pattern?

    I’ve always liked an example in my John Dee biography:

    Newton decided to break with tradition and assert that there were seven colours of the rainbow because there were seven planets and seven notes in the musical octave.

    How cool is that? (How cool is verifying a thought you already ‘know’ is true?)

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 26th, 2013 at 1:54 am Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    Finally got round to working (enjoyably) my way through Middlemarch:

    Indeed, Will had declined to fix on any more precise destination than the entire area of Europe. Genius, he held, is necessarily intolerant of fetters: on the one hand it must have the utmost play for its spontaneity; on the other, it may confidently await those messages from the universe which summon it to its peculiar work, only placing itself in an attitude of receptivity towards all sublime chances. The attitudes of receptivity are various, and Will had sincerely tried many of them. He was not excessively fond of wine, but he had several times taken too much, simply as an experiment in that form of ecstasy; he had fasted till he was faint, and then supped on lobster; he had made himself ill with doses of opium. Nothing greatly original had resulted from these measures; and the effects of the opium had convinced him that there was an entire dissimilarity between his constitution and De Quincey’s. The superadded circumstance which would evolve the genius had not yet come; the universe had not yet beckoned. Even Caesar’s fortune at one time was, but a grand presentiment. We know what a masquerade all development is, and what effective shapes may be disguised in helpless embryos.—In fact, the world is full of hopeful analogies and handsome dubious eggs called possibilities. Will saw clearly enough the pitiable instances of long incubation producing no chick, and but for gratitude would have laughed at Casaubon, whose plodding application, rows of note-books, and small taper of learned theory exploring the tossed ruins of the world, seemed to enforce a moral entirely encouraging to Will’s generous reliance on the intentions of the universe with regard to himself. He held that reliance to be a mark of genius; and certainly it is no mark to the contrary; genius consisting neither in self-conceit nor in humility, but in a power to make or do, not anything in general, but something in particular.

    Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?

    Something in particular but not known – funny, no?

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 31st, 2013 at 2:35 am Reply | Quote

Leave a comment