Sunday, June 29, 2014

least action

there was an amazing passage in stein's book. he has kind of an interesting argument for why the incest taboo is psychically "necessary" - if i'm understanding, it's roughly that the default or symmetric case would be full realization of intimacy with parents and siblings, including sexually. (this is like what clark calls a psychic energy sink.)

he argues that imaginal forms are created when an instinctual drive can't be immediately realized. if there's a potentiality (a divergence between generalized expectation and observation), it essentially follows the path of least action to return to satisfaction/zero. this is kind of like general relativity. because of the "warping" or shape of functional topology of Kosmos/holarchical space (which is simply the truth of all other potentiality), the path of least action can actually involve the apparent creation of new forms.

in his view, imaginal forms are created to find other ways to discharge this potentiality. (and he says this is part of what sets humans apart from other animals; we can rest with some unresolved potentiality over much deeper and more elaborated scales/structures.) so in this case, the incest taboo is strangely like meditation: it induces the path of least action to follow a deepening and spiritualization of male-female polarity. (there are obvious teleological problems with this argument as it's presented here, but let's forget about that for the moment.)

the nice thing is, this fits perfectly with marc's dopamine story. roughly at the human decision making level, dopamine energizes *action* (and i think especially relevantly and perniciously, internal or mental action) to resolve some potentiality. the immediate resolution is benoit's arcing (aka clark's psychic energy sink). at a very motoric level this can be like restless legs syndrome, or slightly more abstract into tourette's or drug addiction.

there feel like vague parallels to hierarchical bayesian stuff - when is there enough evidence to justify another level or meta-parameter. failures of a given model to capture the structure of the world keep increasing the effective temperature until the model complexity of a new level is justified. haven't thought that through yet... but the gist of it is involution -- the impinging of everything is all potentiality.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.—Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.


on one level it's a pretty generic trope. he's chickening out of suicide because he starts overthinking it and getting scared of what it will be like.

but this brings up the good and bad of "thinking". "the currents of enterprises of great pitch and moment turn awry" is zen-like. with more patience and contemplation, there's space to take proper care of any particular conviction, relax it into a bigger love.

so is the "native hue of resolution" our spontaneous self, getting troubled by thoughts and fear; or is it our momentary passion, getting ripened and softened by reflection?

paradox: the chaotic thinking that's troubling us may be the movement that ultimately generates space.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

vice and virtue...

why is it so hard to do the right thing. coming back to the old dual-systems view: plato's charioteer and horses, kahnemann's thinking fast and slow, model-based and model-free, hot and cold systems, etc.

also, what is "impulsivity" and addiction.

i'm wondering if the most salient dichotomy is vice and virtue. the other definitions get caught up on weird issues, like the fact that drug addicts can spend weeks planning sophisticated schemes to get drugs, or that scientists compulsively stay at work even when it's hurting their overall productivity.

maybe these things boil down to some kind of dynamic attractor state in the brain (or in lots of cases probably implemented on a substrate that includes both the brain and other components, parts of your body, other people, etc) that keeps pulling things back toward a certain configuration. this comprises all the partially erroneous beliefs that make up that attractor. "vice" is the continuation of that attractor configuration; "virtue" is when it partially dissolves to inclusion with other dynamics. (incidentally, this is exactly the continental divide between free will and determinism.) so virtue is highly context dependent and can't really be pinned down by any particular understanding.

vice often manifests as short time horizons, self-centric behavior, less deliberative, etc -- but it doesn't necessarily have to. it's possible for other kinds of dynamics to get stuck, even very apparently generous behavior for example, which could still be stuck somewhere as a self-assertion (although this language can be confusing because it's not the standard notion of self).

Sunday, June 08, 2014

a rock just exists as a rock -- no problem. like the garden of eden in the bible. there's no suffering when there's no self-awareness.

the birth of suffering is the awareness that things *could be* different than they are. then there's constant dissatisfaction/confusion in the divergence between how things are and your ideal image of how things should be (this ideal image is your "self").

but, the clash will *never* end. you wouldn't want it to, because this trajectory is exactly what creates the world: form is created by the divergence. what looks like suffering from one perspective is also impossible beauty. to take care of the world is that.