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Karl Jaspers, OSR and all that
Published in neuro.philica.com
We explain why current use of metaphysics is often incorrigibly bad in Section (1). We then pinpoint some of the problems in Section (2). We then help to put matters right in Sections (3) and Section (4). Then we mention in Section (5) all the problems which OSR (Ontic Structural Realism) are bound to cause if anyone actually tries to take it seriously. In Section (6), we continue to glide through the so-called 'abyss'
(1) Doubtful Understanding of Philosophy and the Resolution if any
Simply put, physics and its high-falutin attempts to extend itself into other fields such as metaphysics, has utterly failed. Two papers (3), (4) are sufficient to illustrate that.
But we can delve much further into the details of that failure to gain enlightenment.
This video (3) can be looked at as a simple bull session, or an informal discursive group discussion. It needs to be pointed out that it does represent the views of physics, and is represented as such to a wide audience by serious and senior members of the physics community.
To give their understanding of the universe, any Gods and the rest, the comments of Vijay Balasubramanian as to the use of operationalism as a modus operandi are fair. And their talk is effectively confabulation, or filling in gaps with fabrications which they want to believe to be facts. That could be a harsh meta-analysis of the situation, but does suggest important components of a systematic review procedure.
Clearly for example, formal and final causes (4) fall right outside of the range of Holt's group (3). That is one reason why the 'bull session' seems to be so vague and stumbling. Holt's group (3) actually seems to try to tackle material and efficient causes and it wants to say it has put it all on the table but is still stumbling. And then they even try to accurately call it 'metaphysics', At best their 'metaphysics' is like a dog without a tail or feet.
Can we improve matters and dig down deeper ? It is worth doing so, and overall, the physics and some of the results may be all right for their immediate purposes. So we look at their 'operationalism' but after reference (4) we are carefully to consider at a bare minimum the simple views of Stephen Pepper (5) and to go well beyond there, if we can.
How now for operationalism, then ? Obviously, to improve upon Holt's 'bull session' (3) it is necessary to consider psychology, and probably human psychology. Einstein and Newton both did so in what a critic could regard as a slapdash manner, but in a fashion trammelled by their times and the available knowledge. For example we may think of Einstein's psychological analogies about moving trains when he describes special relativity.
Bickhard (1) mentions that operationalism has continued to seduce psychology more than half a century after it was repudiated by philosophers of science, including the very Logical Positivists who had first taken it seriously. Bickhard claims "It carries with it a presupposed metaphysics that is false in virtually all of its particulars, and thereby distorts and obscures genuine issues concerning the nature of theory and of science. It makes it particularly difficult for psychologists, under the thrall of this dogma, to free themselves from these false resuppositions, and to think about, create, and critique genuine scientific theory and rocess. That is the tragedy of operationalism."
Feest (2) argues that "historical and philosophical discussions of problems with operationism have conflated it, both conceptually and historically, with positivism, and raise the question of what are the “real” issues behind the debate about operationism" and indeed claims "the debate should then be about what are adequate concepts and how (not whether) to operationalise them, and how (not whether) to validate them".
So on the basis of the work of Bickhard and Feest, we have to admit that simple un-metaphysicalised operationalism may not do and we may have to think like the person in the laboratory, who considers some results and readings in a way which may give him fairly sensible results for some reasons, but before we can simply constrict this into a "mode d'emploi" and use some name like 'operationalism' we have to consider the metaphysics involved, perhaps in some way like that suggested by Hobbs (4). We also have to the practical requirements for consistent laboratory work, together with a lot of up to date mathematics.
(2) The Tragedy of Operationalism and some of its Consequences
How the person in the laboratory sees it: Some of the problems emerge clearly in the excellent and relevant lectures of Robert Sapolsky (6,7) . Towards the end of lecture (7), Sapolsky indicates matters which he considers important in the laboratory, such as gradients, randomness, nearest neighbor interactions, use of simple rules, and the idea that the ideas of generalists better to use than those of specialists. Sapolsky thinks we need to think in terms of emergent systems and that reductionism is only of limited use. He also states that there will be no essential ideal to strive for as the optimum rises from emergence. He believes that top down blueprints are not needed and you still get complex adaptive optimised systems. So you do not need anybody to make the blueprint as there is no source of top down instruction. He also admits he is still not well versed in doing things that way, and this may 'encourage the others'. Perhaps, like the way Voltaire (8) explains that "Britain finds it necessary to shoot an admiral from time to time "pour l'encouragement des autres""
Unsophisticated persons, such as scientists with little metaphysical knowledge or olden day clerics, may take the view that persons simply choose between alternatives. Thus, persons may move ahead and perhaps fall down an abyss of their own making, or may somehow stop at the right moment or turn in another direction (9). One of the best current books on such topics is that of Nadel (11) but to a certain point such ideas very largely beg the question, as they have already decided their desired results. Unsophisticated persons may hope that this will also do for the guy in the lab, who will then either care less (12), or perhaps proceed to claim he is using an art term described by some method and then termed "operationalization" - whose priors he decides in advance. Clearly Sapolsky (7) is not so sure of all that.
Jenner (9) takes the view that the abyss between man and nature, apparently opened up by Kant and continued until the days of Heidegger, is a mere fiction. And of course even Thomas Huxley said "Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.”
Jaspers (18) claims that biomedical “expert knowledge” makes three nefarious mistakes.
1 The patient are taken as just the locus of a particular occurrence of a universal category (an illness), not as an individuum
2 The expert tends to focus exclusively on the clinical datum (a symptom) overlooking the meaning that the datum has for the patient who suffers for it
3 The expert forgets that medical practice is based on two pillars: scientific knowledge as well as "humanitarian ethos". Humanitarian ethos means, here, effective proximity to the patient and the awareness of the character of approximation of our clinical knowledge
(4) In the Abyss
For Jaspers (10), then "the very fact that all quest for perfection and security in the realm of finite things is doomed to failure gives the certainty that there is" Transcendence"
Accordingly this merely suggests, as Thornhill says (18,19), that in Jaspers' view that 'foundering' (or failing utterly, collapsing) is the new great cipher for the philosophical experience of Transcendence. But it is not only a cipher. Rather is it the experience of foundering which is fundamental. This became particularly apparent when we spoke of ultimate foundering before the abyss of Nothingness.
Again, according to Thornhill (19), Jaspers' own metaphysics is always a post-Kantian metaphysics: it is a negative metaphysics, which resists all suggestion that human reason might give itself an account of metaphysical essences, which defines the realm of human meaning as formed by its difference against positive metaphysical knowledge, but which nonetheless sees reason, in Kierkegaardian manner, as driven by a despairing desire for metaphysical transcendence.
Jaspers (18) also said “The fall from absolutes which were after all illusory becomes an ability to soar; what seemed an abyss becomes space for freedom; apparent Nothingness is transformed into that from which authentic being speaks to us”.
Additionally, atheist Sapolsky gave a lecture (21) at Stanford Unversity illustrating his reseach, in which he quoted Soren Kierkegaard and Sr. Helen Prejean as follows:
"Christian faith requires that faith persists in the face of the impossible, and that humans have the capacity to simultaneously believe in two contradictory things."
"The less forgivable the act, the more it must be forgiven. The less loveble the person is, the more you must find the means to love them."
It would appear, then, that Sapolsky accepts the existence of very simple instances of Jaspers' "foundering", and indeed he specifies cases.
So effectively, Sapolsky's ideas of emergence (7) and our work on Astral Projection (20) fit in with the work of Karl Jaspers. We have covered the views of the laboratory of Robert Sapolsky and of the psychiatric clinic of Karl Jaspers, and we have returned human beings to our prospect so are ready and willing to utilise the A series of JME MacTaggart as well as the B series, used already so much by fundamental physics.
(5) Current alternative views
The Ontic Structural Realism (OSR) of Ladyman (14) is one current view, and discussing the differences there still indicate the deep problems which metaphysics has to face. The 'realism' which Ladyman (RLS) (17) refers to is scientific theories which actually track truth about the world, while 'antirealism' is the position that scientific theorizing has the more modest aim of being empirically adequate. The view that attempts to steer a way between realism and antirealism is referred to as structural realism. Ontic Structual Realism (OSR) is the view that the world has an objective modal structure that is ontologically fundamental … According to OSR, even the identity and individuality of objects depends on the relational structure of the world. … There are no things. Structure is all there is. These ideas are explained in detail while considering metaphysics by Melnyle (15), who points out in detail that the core of Ladyman’s position - the PNC - is too restrictive, and that their deference to institutional science is exaggerated. So Melnyle does not believe that metaphysics can be naturalized in the way that RLS proposes.
So what do RLS propose in simple layman's terms? They think (16) that metaphysics ought to abandon the goal of figuring out the basic ontological structure of the universe, because this is now the province of science, especially fundamental physics. I would say, ROFL!
As Jung referred to Freudian science as the "Oedipus stain" (histologically) we could refer to Ladyman's work as the "physics stain". Certainly ontic structural realism is a view, but it is just one view out of many, just as a stained microscope slide is only one view, however interesting.
And what is much worse, it is an eliminative view, about as top down as you can get. Melnyle makes some good views and also, using Sapolsky's work on emergence, OSR is inappropriate for science studies. So far OSR has brought out nothing new in physics or anywhere else, not a good sign. Also RLS are only working in the JME McTaggart B series, as far as is known, and thus RLS use by human beings is impracticable.
(6) Use of the Abyss
We must remember the course of lectures given by Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University, in particular lectures 21 and 22 (6,7). Sapolsky pointed out clearly that reductionism is a doubtful tool, for example after the discovery that the 'grandmother neurons' idea did not work. We pointed this out here in Section 2.
If we had wanted to deal with 'metaphysics' we would have been almost better off using the work of Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg tried very hard, over a long period of time, to produce results which today we might consider as the results of Astral Projection. Here is an interesting video about Emanuel Swedenborg (29). We should remember that he lived many years ago, in a different country, and he was deeply involved in existing local ideas about religion, and philosophy. Given that, his work is still deeply interesting and could be recommended for application nowadays. I recently briefly summarised some ideas (27,28) which outline some practices we may be wise to also consider nowadays, and of course I will have much more to add.
From here on within this document, we look for convincing argumentation as well as scientific work. Reductionism and operationalism have been proven to contain too many errors as mentioned above and of course ontic structural realism does not even survive as a useful hypothesis.
Yates (30) gives a simple explanation for Swedenborg's metaphysical lucubrations, and Yates also gives a further warning as to possible consequences, good or bad, of such activities (31). In the conclusion of reference (20) he also gives references to 11 further papers in which more than 11 methods are given, whereby Astral Projection or the 'Abyss' may be obtained. And Yates (32, 33) also mentions further matters to be aware of.
There is so much to be done - the phenomenon of Augenblick, for example, has to be considered in great length and relates deeply to any possible Astral Projection, and to the experience of ontological potency. We know that the Augenblick is manifested in the JME McTaggart A series. The metaphysics of the Jaspers' 'Abyss' arising during Astral Projection must also be borne in mind.
Gladwell's popular best-seller "Blink" (34) . Gladwell's idea of "blink" is clearly not identical with the "augenblick", which has more definite qualities: the dictionary definition of "augenblick" is roughly "a brief period of time that is characterized by a quality, such as excellence, suitability, or distinction: or a lackluster performance that nevertheless had its moments".
Gladwell's 'blink' is roughly explained (34,page 1 et seq) as 'thin-slicing' (35,36). And this idea obviously applies (37) to Cristof Koch's work in its relevance to our studies. And Jaspers' (18) "three nefarious mistakes" are mirrored in "Blink" (34, page 39 et seq) and in lawsuit statistics (38). Yes, we are all seeming to be, if not singing the same hmn sheet, at least to be using non discordant hymn sheets.
We can also consider the work of Keith Johnstone (39). His improvisation suceeds by the formulation and use of rules, a matter discussed by Gladwell (34, pages 114-116) in much the same way as Sapolsky (6,7) and many others like Andy Clark (20) use for ants.
More similarities can be pointed out, but it is easiest now to bear in mind references (20,30,31,32,33), plus using the guidelines (a) and the new experimental matters (b) to proceed to get a lot of results.
(a) Guidelines. A few more things to bear in mind (22,23,24). These are intended as helpful guidelines only, rather than Diktats. They are intended for further study of Astral Projection and the abyss.
Aesthetic language is, in principle, replaceable: it varies according to the widely accidental constraints of subjective taste. Jaspers isn’t doing aesthetics, he’s doing metaphysics.
What up to then had passed for “philosophy” in the academy of Jaspers student days was no more than “questionable opinions making claim to scientific validity” Instead of those “questionable opinions - like the OSR of today” what Jaspers sought was a “perception of reality.”
the problem is in the very architecture of thought itself, which can no more see or even think the self than the eye can gaze directly at its own organ of sight. What’s at stake is more than epistemological doubt: what’s at stake is existential doubt, where “my existence is revealed to me as being….a complete shipwreck" (Scheitern). foundering makes room for the further
revelation of transcendence, culminating in the peace and serenity. The important message here is that there is real salvation even in suffering.
the important philosophical questions are neither solved nor dissolved; they are certainly not productively avoided. Jaspers travels through suffering and “approaches even closer to the truth.”
transcendence is “the power through which I am authentically myself".
every claim to finality is false. Existenz becomes fully appropriated, as “the actuality of real action” in the “surging upwards” of self-being. This is said to be a passage from doubt into deliverance, into the assurance of Being — “That there is Being suffices.” But between those two poles, between doubt and assurance,” there is the leap from doubt and despair.
we pass from logical possibility to the experience of ontological potency – to real “power.” This is essentially a religious idea. And the possibility that philosophy might actually provide an access to ontological power
Jaspers, rather than taking religion on its own terms and reflecting on it philosophically, takes it out of its own context and locates it in "the new problematical area of the metaphysical dimension of reality."
Jaspers objects to those who claim that their revelation and special historicity have validity for all humans.
foundering requires knowledge and that therefore only humans can founder. The knowledge that is pertinent to foundering is the discovery that every claim to finality is false. A systematic doctrine of God overreaches, for by presuming to talk about God in conceptual terms it shows that it literally does not know what it is talking about. Experience shows that an optimistic philosophy of love is inadequate, just as is a pessimistic philosophy of despair.
distinctive thing about foundering is that a cipher may emerge, any particular experience, including destruction, can be the occasion for it. "there is nothing that could not be a cipher."
Existenz is only fully itself in a realized relation to Transcendence
Jaspers distinguishes between duration (Dauer) and perpetuation or eternalization (Verewigen). If, as a natural being, I try to achieve duration, I discover that things natural, fabricated, and human pass away. Timeless concepts do not satisfy because they are unreal and empty. (WE ARE NOT B SERIES PEOPLE)
Jaspers wanted to outline "the metaphysical features of human Existenz – which means, what it’s like to experience being human in our full freedom"
deathlessness is one of the basic aspects of the so-called Augenblick experiences.
Augenblick is a momentous, decisive but fleeting instant which impresses an individual so deeply that he or she quite literally experiences eternity within a moment of objective time. The Augenblick deathlessness experience is defined by Peach (24,26) as “one’s momentary, existential timeless experience that can manifest itself as eternity in objective time in the world.”
Peach interprets this ‘eternity in time’ as “One’s timeless existential experience of eternity that occurs when eternity cuts across time at one single point, ie is transverse to objective time. This eternal point represents the present ‘now’.” So we could even say that in the Augenblick for Jaspers we experience the eternal nature of the present.
for Jaspers, Transcendence is a reality beyond observation, that cannot be researched by scientific methods or proven by rational argument. Transcendence cannot be grasped by our categories of thinking: it resists objectivization by cognitive processes. Transcendence can be neither naturalized, nor anthropomorphized.
The test of the possibility of Existenz is the knowledge that it rests upon transcendence
that there is Being is all we need ?
The leap from fear to serenity is the most tremendous one a man can make. That he succeeds in it must be due to a reason beyond the Existenz of his self-being. Indefinably, his faith ties him to transcendent being
The tie to transcendence, formed by the fear-leap-serenity triad, also makes possible seeing mundane realities without reserve. This calls to mind Whitehead's insistence on "the awful ultimate fact, which is the human being, consciously alone with itself, for its own sake…. if you are never solitary, you are never religious" and that religion is what you do with your solitariness: reach out to others, to the world, and to God.
(b) New Experimental Matters. Windt's work on touch and lucid dreaming (40,41). This is interesting, detailed work which should be read, as should the work of van Doorn and Hohwy (42). The methods used can, up to a point, by systematized in a somewhat similar way to the work of Zopf (43).
Feedback loops can be considered both from the place of view of (20,30,31,32,33) and also Windt's idea. We think of Hofstadter's "strange loop" and there are many more ideas, perhaps less ephemeral (45). We can also carry out rather complex timing using results like the Yates equation (44). And there are feedback loops and lucid dreaming possibilities within the original Karolinska Institute ideas of Ehrsson and Blanke. Even Ganzfeld results can be focussed with a systematised procedure like that of Zopf.
So we should soon have enough methods to glide through the abyss, as I also have outlined (20,30,31,32,33) above.
And we can thus, if we wish, already take on some of the abilities and social uses which are often ascribed to Gods (30).
We have shown how the work of Karl Jaspers can be used, not just in contemporary metaphysics, but as a simple and very effective way of probing the Abyss and in attempting to carry out Astral Projection. Emanuel Swedenborg's work was used briefly as an example of what human beings may be capable of carrying out. Specific work (32) has also been pointed out and produced, and much more is on the way.
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