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Thorsten Candidate | joined 26 October 2008 | 30 posts


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 30 October 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

I came across the books recently, and I must say I enjoyed the story very much - in particular the mysteries in the plot, which reminded me of my roleplaying times. Probably like everyone else, I was intrigued by the question of what the No-God actually is. So I started to browse back and forth through the books, made a list of references and tried to figure it out. In the end, I think I do have a compelling theory about what is going on in the books, and ultimately what the No-God is and why he asks the mysterious questions about his identity on the field of Mengedda.

However, it's a lengthy argument, so you'll have to stay with me through quite some text about the nature of reality and sorcery in Eärwa. <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) --> I think it's worth it, however, and I would be very interested in your thoughts and comments on my ideas.

By the way - since I have volume 1 in the US edition but 2 and 3 in the UK edition (I'm moving quite a lot...) and they don't seem to have the same layout, I'm citing by book and chapter, not by page number. view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 30 October 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts

Abbreviations used:

RSB: R. Scott Bakker
DB: The Darkness that Comes Before
WP: The Warrior Prophet
TT: The Thousandfold Thought
Ch.: Chapter
Gl.: Encyclopedic Glossary

Introduction

This essay grew from the quest to find an answer to what is to me the most puzzling question in RSB's 'Prince of Nothing' cycle: Why is it, that when the No-God, the Destroyer of Worlds, the one entity dreaded more than anything else by mankind, finally appears during the First Apocalypse amidst a whirlwind, that what he utters is so completely at odds with what one would expect evil incarnate to speak in this moment:

What do you see?
I must know what you see.
Tell me!
What am I?


More than anything else, these words reveal how utterly alien as a concept the No-God really is, and this (arguably) poses the greatest enigma of the novels. Can one understand it? Perhaps one can - but in doing so, one needs to carefully investigate the relation of all other things in the world to see where and how the No-God fits in. view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 30 October 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

Two different concepts of the world

Throughout the novels, we see two different main concepts of the world contrasted over and over again. A very clear passage illustrating this is for example Cnaiür's recalling of Achamian's illustration of the Outside as water leaking through a parchment and his comparison with Kellhus' world as closed (TT, Chapter 9), rooting in itself.

The Dûnyain philosophy - Logos and causality

One concept of the world is exemplified by the Logos, the guiding principle of the Dûnyain. The word 'Logos' is clearly borrowed (as many other terms) by RSB from ancient Greek philosophy. It refuses a simple translation, having a vast range of meaning in different Greek philosophical writings, but the meanings possibly most relevant for the present considerations are the following:

λογος - computation, reckoning, relation, correspondence, proportion, explanation

This captures more or less what we see Kellhus doing most of the time. The principle 'What comes before determines what comes after.' establishes relation between and provides an explanation of events in terms of other events before. The concept expressed in this principle is known as causality, the influence of events spreading forward in times as the cause for other events. Causality is a well-known concept in natural sciences, most strikingly exemplified by modern physics where the laws of Relativity state that information can propagate only in the forward lightcone (i.e. a bit more simplified forward in time), an event which has no overlapping lightcone with another (because it happens simultaneously or after the other) cannot in any way exchange information with the other. Applied to Eärwa, the principle states that there is no purpose in events, because this would mean that an event that comes after (the purpose) determines that which is now.

But the Dûnyain principle actually states more than that: It states that what comes after is exclusively determined by what comes before, in other words, there are no 'uncaused' events (this would involve truly random occurrances) and no events caused by an outside cause (i.e. something that did not come before in the world). This is the reason Cnaiür pictures the world of Kellhus as closed - there is nothing outside that what came before, and what came before is of the same nature as what came after, so logically there is also no beginning cause (which would be outside of this chain), which brings us to the principle 'The Logos is without beginning or end.' (DB, Ch. 17).

Given the absence of randomness in a causal world, there would be absolute certainty in predicting the future for anyone who knows what is now, because this completely determines what comes after. However, the practical problem of Kellhus (or the Dûnyain in general) is the absence of such complete knowledge. In the absence of such knowledge, the Dûnyain resort to a computation based on maximum likelihood of events - the probability trance. In doing so, they replace knowledge of events by assumptions about what events occur most likely and make projections of the future based on these - however such projections are no longer certainties but inherently reflect the assumptions used to derive them. Here, we see the Logos exemplified as computation and reckoning. The only way to improve the predictive power of the probability trance for the Dûnyain is to increase their knowledge. Thus, we can readily understand why Kellhus causes Achamian (who has a vast knowledge of the Three Seas) to be his teacher (DB, Ch. 19).

In the application of the principle of the Logos, we finally find correspondance and proportion. In the view of the Dûnyain, in the absence of an outside cause as higher principle, one way to cause an event is as good as another way, in other words, it is the end that matters, not the means. This is the picture of the trackless steppe described by Moenghus to Cnaiür (DB, Ch. 12) - one may walk any path towards the destination. Judged by the ends, the only guiding principle to select a path is ease - one should take the shortest path, the sequence of actions which requires the least amount of work to achieve the desired ends. The 'true' proportion (as seen by the Logos) between desired end and means is often quite different than the apparent. We see Kellhus acting on this principle numerous times when he uses whatever means he can find to achieve his ends without any moral considerations - from generally benevolent actions such as helping people to understand themselves to rather cynical methods such as using Serwë to make Achamian feel guilty.

There is, finally, something of a philosophical problem in this causal concept of the Dûnyain. Their quest is to be self-determined, self-moving souls, thus they aim to dominate their circumstances instead of being dominated by them (TT, Gl. 'Dûnyain'). The problem is illustrated in describing to Esmenet how the Cants of Compulsion work (TT, Ch. 6,14), it is made quite clear that volition is yet another thing in the soul to be moved, rather than the mover. So Esmenet asks rightfully that if even her volition is a thing to be moved from outside, then what defines her as her? The same argument ultimately applies to the Dûnyain - if volition is yet another thing to be moved, and if what comes before determines what comes after, how can they possibly claim to strife to be self-moving if there is nothing left which would be their 'self'? The Dûnyain do not seem to have solved this question even conceptually - their goal is instead to evolve through generations of training, selection and breeding beings which are more and more aware of the circumstances which determine them under the assumption that this will eventually lead to a self-moving soul which is able to penetrate the 'darkness that comes before', the cause of the soul (TT, Gl. 'Dûnyain')

Inrithism and Fanimry - the God and causes from Outside

Quite a different view of the world is held by the vast majority of people living in Eärwa. Many of them believe in one way or the other in gods, either in the God manifest in many aspects as the gods of Inrithism or as the one God of Fanimry. As a consequence, in this view of the world man has a soul, and the soul comes from an Outside, lives in the world, and if it leads a just life, it passes to the Outside. In other words, the ultimate cause of man is not something that came before within the world, but something from without. Likewise, this world is not without beginning or end - it views God as the creator, as the first cause of the world.

In this view of the world, the relation between ends and means is vastly different from the view taken by the Logos. There is, first of all, a judgment of the actions of a soul after death according to the means a person has used to achieve goals. Thus, the means become as important a consideration as the ends, which is the basis of moral considerations. Indeed, in this open view of the world, the ends of many people lie outside the world, it is the afterlife of their soul they are concerned with, not a goal inside the world.

Likewise, the implications for causality are completely different. Faith views the world (at least partially) evolving according to a divine plan. The God causes events (from the Outside) in the circle of the world such that the plan is fulfilled. Thus, from the point of view of a man in the world, the future, that what comes after, the eventual purpose of the divine plan, determines what comes before. Most of the time, this is without consequence (as the divine plan is not known to mankind), but occasionally the plan is revealed - this is then prophecy. Prophecy leads to a strange backward causality - knowledge of the future causes events in the present to happen. The problem (as always) with backward causality is that knowledge of the future may cause events in the present which prevent this very future from happening - in which case the knowledge of the future was not knowledge in the first place (because the event didn't actually happen).

Kellhus' prophecy to Saubon 'March... The Whore will be kind to you... You must make certain the Shrial knights are punished' (WP, Ch. 4) is actually rather far from backward causality. Kellhus at this point did not actually believe himself that he was describing any real future event - but Saubon did. That in turn caused him to take the field - and the outcome conformed exactly to Kellhus' words. Clearly, Kellhus' words caused the subsequent events in some way, and at least partially helped making them true - this is often called a self-fulfilling prophecy and has not much in common with backward causality. At this point, there was not really anything Saubon could have done (short of deliberately being defeated in battle) to falsify what Kellhus had said. He could have 'not punished' the Shrial knights - but likely that would have resulted in a defeat. Kellhus does not provide an absolute future at this point, he provides a conditional future, and such a prophecy is rather evasive. Nevertheless, while we cannot establish the actual existence of backward causality from any text passage in the trilogy, most people of faith accept it readily. This sense of purpose is in fact the very driving force of the Holy War.

A more complete theory of the Outside is given in the Dyadic Theory of Ajencis: 'The world (...) is simply the point of maximal objectivity, the plane where the desires of individual souls are helpless before circumstance (because it is fixed by the desire of the God of Gods). The many regions of the Outside then represent diminishing levels of objectivity where circumstances yield more and more to desire' (TT, Gl. 'Outside'). view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 30 October 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

Which view describes Eärwa as it is?

It is an interesting observation that even scientific-minded people in our world would accept neither the philosophy of the Dûnyain nor the causes from outside but a mixture of both. In spite of accepting causality, most people would still hold to some kind of ethic principles which make some actions inacceptable even if they are the shortest path towards a goal. But this is not an essay about Earth but about Eärwa, and here RSB gets to decide which view on the world is true, and we get to know by interpreting clues hidden in the text of the trilogy.

There is plenty of evidence that the Dûnyain understand the true nature of the world. Consider simply their enormous success - Kellhus, a single man, manages to bend the whole Holy War to his purpose. He manages to acquire from Achamian what other sourcerous schools have sought for centuries - the Gnosis. Nowhere do we observe a resistive core from Outside in a soul which does not accept manipulation. Even Cnaiür, who is unusually intelligent and moreover has figured out what Moënghus has done and how, who takes ample precaution when dealing with Kellhus since their first encounter - even he falls to Kellhus manipulation and teaches him war when Kellhus uses Serwë (WP, Ch. 13). Thus, not even a person aware that he is manipulated and moreover suspecting that he will be disposed of once he is no longer useful can resist, of such strength is the Dûnyain principle to come before the movements of another's soul. Likewise Achamian, in spite of Kellhus taking the woman he loves from him, in spite of Seswatha residing in him as a kind of second persona who prevents him from revealing the Gnosis even under threat of Xinemus' torture (WP, Ch. 19), in spite of having a philosophy based on doubt eventually yields to the manipulation. So, how could all this occur when the soul is really something with a cause in the Outside? On the other hand, while Kellhus keeps up the appearances of a prophet, he does not actually work miracles. Finding water in the desert (WP, Ch. 18) certainly appears like a miracle to warriors dying from thirst, but is nothing more than keen observation of natural clues. One thing which would require a miracle, i.e. healing the blinded Xinemus, he cannot do (TT, Ch. 6).

And yet, there is also evidence that there is an Outside. In fact, there is rather good, solid evidence through the existence of the Daimos (TT, Gl 'Daimos'), in particular the Ciphrang which are entities summoned from the Outside and through sorcery in general. Moënghus, the only Dûnyain expect Kellhus to have learned sorcery, readily acknowledges the existence of the Outside as such, however he takes the view that there is nothing found which is not a pale shadow of what is found within (TT, Ch. 16). In other words, according to this view, the Logos is still the guiding principle, causality is valid, the Outside is just an extension of the world, a new domain of causality, not something apart from causality.


But the story offers yet more evidence for the view of Inrithism and Fanimry. We may start with the tantalizing clues to prophecy. What about the Kelmomian prophecy that an Anasûrimbor would return before the end (which is a cornerstone in the relation between Achamian and Kellhus, though in all fairness one might consider the possibility that Kellhus would have found another way to acquire the Gnosis - however presumably this was the point which swayed the Seswatha persona in Achamian)? What about the above-mentioned prophecy to Saubon - was it just lucky coincidence, a 'fortuitous Correspondence of Cause', that events played out the way they were predicted - or is this not precisely the way we would expect purposeful events to happen? Then there are the visions of the No-God Kellhus experiences during the circumfixion, visions not anticipated by Moënghus (who otherwise gave a rather accurate assessment of what happened prior to this point).

Most strikingly, there is the question of halos around Kellhus' hands, in the Three Seas taken to be the sign of a prophet. This is a rather confusing clue. Various people observe the halos at various times - but then when, Serwë, during the battle of Anwurat, is visited by a Skin-Spy whom she takes to be Kellhus, she observes halos around his hands too (WP, Ch. 14)! So, are we to conclude that people observe the halos because they already believe Kellhus is a prophet, and their mind completes the picture by showing them what they believe to be true? Partially that seems to be the case - except that Kellhus himself at some point observes the halos (TT, Ch. 16), and that Kellhus himself, on his final way to Moënghus, asks a question and picks up a twig with two leaves as an answer - and acts upon this answer, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the principles of the Logos (TT, Ch. 15). So, what, except an influence from Outside, would drive Kellhus to abandon his otherwise so successful principles? In fact, Kellhus states quite explicitly that he is convinced that he has thoughs from Outside and that Moënghus is wrong.

We may, as Moënghus does, allow for the possibility that Kellhus is getting mad, that his certainty to be right is the false certainty of a person with delusions. However, let us appreciate two important points: First, any formal system used for logical deductions (this includes the Logos as well as mathematics) requires axioms, stated principles about how the system works. However, these axioms cannot be proven within the system, they are assumptions. The Dûnyain philosophy rests on axioms about what is a valid deduction and what not just as any other system, i.e. implicitly Moënghus relies on an unproven certainty to be right just as well as Kellhus. Second, delusional people usually fail to acknowledge some aspect of reality and this leads to discrepancies they have to explain away. Kellhus does not seem to have this problem - all events play out as if he were a prophet. He isn't ever busy explaining away his failures as prophet. Thus, while madness is a possibility, it does not seem to be likely.

In summary, RSB does not seem to answer the issue which view is correct - given the text, both positions can be argued. view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 30 October 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

The Thousandfold Thought - reality as a construct and emergence

But in fact, I think RSB does answer the issue. If we pose a question if A or B is real, and then an honest investigation of evidence reveals that A and B are both real, it simply means that we did not pose a meaningful question. The question we posed contains hidden assumptions about the nature of 'real' and in order to ask a meaningful question, we have to uncover and remove some of these assumptions.

In order to explain what this means, let us have a look at quantum physics, or more specifically the wave-particle duality. The question at hand is: Is the nature of light a wave, or is it a particle? The evidence is that in some experiments light behaves clearly as a wave, but in others equally clearly as a particle! The answer to this apparent paradox is that it is unreasonable to insist that light must be either wave or particle - in reality, it is neither (we don't acually know what it is, but we describe as a quantum state with a given wave function which describes everything light does). But according to our perception, the underlying reality appears to us as either wave or particle - it is the perception which forms the apparent reality from the true reality. In other words, the apparent reality around us is nothing but a construct of conscious perception. Only in confusing apparent reality with true reality do we get a paradox.

But we cannot actually see true reality unformed by perception. Quantum states are undecided - quantum physics does not demand that a door is either open or closed, it can be both at the same time. Perceived reality however demands that it is one or the other. Quantum evolution does not have a definite history - past events did not happen, but only happened with a certain probability. Perceived reality demands that a past event has either happened or not.

And this last discrepancy is at the heart of a seeming backward causality effect in physics: In a certain process, light is emitted from a moving particle. But an event which happens later to the particle can cancel the emission which happened before. If we insist in the truth of perceived reality, then this is backward causality at its finest - that what comes after determines that which came before. But the error in the reasoning here is that the true past was never fixed, although we could only see it as fixed. Instead, the true past state always contained the probability that the emission never happened at all, and all we do in the experiment is projecting into this probability.

So there is a very real conceptual framework in which both causality and seeming backward causality can be true, and in which conflicting pictures of reality can be reconciled. In fact, it is the foundation principle of our world.

RSB gives various clues that the reality underlying Eärwa is of a very similar nature. For example, one of the prerequisites one needs to do sorcery is described as the ability to see the onta, i.e. reality as it really is (TT, Gl. 'sorcery'). Moënghus describes the Thousandfold Thought in his meeting with Kellhus as a 'lie becoming truth' and draws analogies with the viramsata (TT, Ch. 16), which is nothing but the idea that perception shapes reality with an intermediate step - the lie shaping perception. But for this shaping of reality to happen, belief is not enough. It is too superficial. Simply to believe that something happens does not shape the reality of Eärwa but only the individual perception. Absolute belief is required to shape perceived reality. This is all but spelled out by RSB in the information that sorcery (which undeniably changes reality) relies on the concept of 'absolute meaning' (TT, Gl. 'sorcery'), which is nothing but the absolute belief in a connection between a given word and an outside reality. The role of absolute belief is also confirmed by the fact that Moënghus was able to grasp the concept of the Thousandfold Thought, something the Dûnyain have been unable to do for thousands of years. The reason is probably that Moënghus was surrounded by people who do not ask questions of cause and effect and are thus capable of absolute belief, whereas the Dûnyain isolated in Ishuäl were not in contact with any such worldborn people, they themselves being far too rational to be capable of absolute belief.

This leaves three different layers of reality: 1) the individual perceived reality through belief 2) the perceived reality (through absolute belief of a large number of people) 3) the true reality independent of perception. As for 1), a person might believe that Kellhus is a prophet, but an omniscient observer would disagree and say that the person is deceived about the true state of things. In 2) a person may believe that Kellhus is a prophet, and an omniscient observer would agree that this is so. Finally, in 3) there is no perception of Kellhus as prophet or not, the question does not arise.

But in order to understand the Thousandfold Thought, we must look at one more concept - [url=http&#58;//en&#46;wikipedia&#46;org/wiki/Emergence:1zwk77jw]emergence[/url:1zwk77jw]. Emergence is not an easily defined concept. Roughly, it means that in a sufficiently complex system, new phenomena occur that cannot be traced back to individual components of the system, i.e. the whole is greater than its parts. Thus, in order to understand the system, it is insufficient to analyze all parts of it.

As an example, consider an anthill. There seems to be purposeful activity, ants transport food into the hill, transport rubbish out, find new food sources, repair the hill, and so on. Yet if you mark a single ant with a white dot, there is no sign at all of purpose. The single ant just randomly seems to go here and there, it does not carry out any purposeful action. So, analyzing a single ant does not reveal where the organizing intelligence of an anthill actually is or how it works. The same with the human brain - analyzing the function of neurons does not provide clues as to how consciousness works or where in the brain it is.

The God (or the Outside) is in all likelihood an emergent phenomenon from the interaction between consciousness, belief, perception and reality - some kind of super-consciousness. Kellhus seems to have something like this in mind when he explains to Achamian that the Outside is rather a direction in the soul of man and that the God is looking out of the eye of every man (TT, Ch. 10). Of course, one should always be careful with explanations provided by Kellhus, which rarely are given with the sole aim of explaining anything, but the description seems to fit the evidence rather nicely. Moënghus describes the Thousandfold Thought indeed as a 'living thing' (TT, Ch. 16) which becomes the player using mankind.

The issue about emergence is not that it would not follow causality. It is unreasonable to claim that the behaviour of an anthill does not follow from the behaviour of individual ants when one cannot point to any outside cause. The problem is that emergence follows causality in a way that cannot be isolated, and hence it eludes the Dûnyain analysis. One can not point to a property of the single ant and localize the organizing intelligence of the anthill. It is caused by the ants, but it is caused somehow without a clear line, and this is where the analysis of causation and the predictive power stumble.

The various aspects of the concept known as the Thousandfold Thought then evolve as follows:

Initially, Kellhus wishes to dominate circumstance. Thus, his words and actions shape the belief of others, and his aim is that their belief changes their individual perception of reality, such that they accept him as a prophet, thus that the behaviour of people is changed because of their changed perception of reality. In a sense, he is the omniscient outside observer (so is Cnaiür) and he would state that the true state of affairs is that he is in fact not a prophet. In other words, Kellhus lies about being a prophet and purposefully poses as one. In his initial view, there is an underlying independent reality, and people can choose see it or not, but reality does not depend on whether they do or not.

Moënghus has in fact carefully prepared and anticipated Kellhus' path, since he has figured out one more step in the chain of Kellhus' words forming beliefs and beliefs forming perceptions --- he knows that absolute belief as being created in the holy war will bring about the Thousandfold Thought as an emerging living entity. In other words, he anticipates that he creates a new God in a sense, but he views himself as outside of these events, as their originator, and probably his plan is as Kellhus suspects to dispose of his son and to take over the role as prophet (TT, Ch. 17).

However, what actually seems to happen carries the chain even more steps further. The Thousandfold Thought of the Holy War does shape the God as emergent phenomenon. But in doing so, it actually reshapes reality. In particular, it reshapes (seemingly) the history of events leading to this point, giving rise to (seeming) causality violation. In other words, the events reach back into the past and shape the reality out of which the consciousness of both Kellhus and Moënghus is in itself an emergent phenomenon - and thus the neither Kellhus nor Moënghus are in any sense outside the Thousandfold Thought, but in turn influenced and shaped by the very events they have set in motion.

Thus, the somewhat paradoxical answer to the question of Kellhus is really a prophet is: Initially he is not, but in the end he always has been.

It seems much more useful to analyze the unfolding of events in terms of the evolution of probability amplitudes of events as in quantum physics than in terms of a timeline. This especially relates to the No-God - the mere possibility that he may be resurrected in the future seems to be causing all kinds of events and dreams in the present. view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 30 October 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

Sorcery

Armed with the conceptual framework outlined above, we may ask the question of the nature of sorcery. Kellhus provides a rather stringent explanation to Achamian (TT, Ch. 10), but Kellhus being Kellhus, everything said should be confirmed by other observations. So, what do we actually know about sorcery in Eärwa?

First of all, it does not seem to be connected in any way to race. The Nomen practice sorcery (DB, Prologue), mankind practices sorcery, the surviving Inchoroi practice it, cf. the compulsion used by Aurang in the meeting with Kellhus (TT, Ch. 12) and there is even one Skin-Spy able to use sorcery (TT, Ch. 13), which is interesting as the Skin-Spies are usually taken to be constructs of Tekne with only a rudimentary soul, although admittedly this Skin-Spy is described as unusual and as having a soul.

Sorcery is also not connected to language - Achamian cites the fact that the Gnosis cants use a different languages than the Anagogis cants as evidence (TT, Ch. 10).

Sorcery is comparatively rare. The sorcerers are referred to as 'The Few', and we learn that about 100 sorcerers of the Scarlet Spires accompany the Holy War which initially has some 350.000 people. Assuming that the number of fighters a country can muster is as much as one tenth of the population (a rather large number), the ability to do sorcery occurs rarer than in one of 35.000 people. However, the ability to do sorcery does not come on a black-and-white basis, but in degrees. In several places, different ranks of sorcerers according to their ability and strength are distinguished within a school. In particular, for Moënghus it is said by Kellhus that his powers are 'proportionate to [his] vestigial passions' (TT, Ch. 16).


Sorcery may work on very different principles. Four of these actually occur in the trilogy:

* The Anagogis: The name is in all likelihood derived from the Greek

αναγωγη - reference to a principle

and this seems to describe the nature of the anagogic sourcery rather well. It is based on analogies and uses mental images in cants, or 'resonance between meanings and concrete things' (TT, Gl. 'Anagogis'), In other words, anagogic sorcerers who want to produce heat conjure images of suns, dragons and such like.

* The Gnosis: This seems to be derived from Greek

γνωσις - higher, esoteric knowledge

and we learn that the Gnosis is originally a Noman sorcery and that it is based on abstractions (TT, Gl. 'Gnosis'). It is therefore considerably more powerful than the Anagogis (Achamian has no problem taking on four Imperial Saik in TT, Ch. 16). It is an 'analytic and systematic sorcery' (TT, Ch. 1). In other words, a gnostic sorcerer who wishes to produce heat conjures the abstract idea of heat directly.

* The Psûkhe: This is the sorcery of the Cishaurim and its name is based on Greek

ψυχη - the conscious self or personality as centre of emotions, desires, and affections

The Chishaurim refer to their sorcerous powers as the 'holy water'. Unfortunately, the main descriptions of the Psûkhe are given by Kellhus. He describes it as a 'metaphysics of the heart' (TT, Ch. 16) and contrasts the gnostic and anagogic concepts which in an analogy correspond to the words the God used in the creation to the Psûkhe as 'the tone and timbre, the passion of the God's voice' (TT, Ch.10).


* The Aporos: This is a Noman type of sorcery which is not very frequently mentioned. It is responsible for the creation of the chorae under the involvement of the Inchoroi though (TT, Gl. 'Cûno-Inchoroi-Wars'). The name is presumably the Greek

απορος- impossible, useless

where the first meaning is implied since the Aporos hinges on contradictions (i.e. the impossible) rather than being a useless type of sorcery. The sorcery is described as being very dangerous.

In fact, the list covers pretty much all aspects of function the conscious brain shows: Imagination and visualization (Anagogis), rational thought and abstraction (Gnosis), emotion and desire (Psûkhe) and the ability to cope with paradox (Aporos) - the latter distinguishes the human brain e.g. from a computer which can not cope with contradictory input. The conclusion is that sorcery is in some way tied to the function of a conscious mind.

So, all in all it seems that we can accept Kellhus' explanation of what sorcery is. It is the ability to perceive not only perceived reality (as all people do) but a glimpse of the underlying true reality (the onta) with 'insinuations of more' (TT, Ch. 10). The power of a sorcerer is then proportional to his capability of using a certain function of his mind - Moënghus' power in the Psûkhe is proportional to his passions and hence is rather weak, but Kellhus' power in the Gnosis is based on his vast capability for abstract thought and hence he can do things no other living sorcerer can do, for example use two inutteral strings in a cant (TT, Ch. 16).

The act of sorcery is then something like a 'Onefold Thought' - the cant serves as a device to create a description of reality with 'absolute meaning' in the mind of the sorcerer, and just as the absolute belief of many in the Thousandfold Thought shapes the perceived reality from the true reality, so shapes the absolute meaning of a cant shape perceived reality from the true reality. But the mind of the sorcerer is not capable of doing it the same way as the superconsciousness of the Thousandfold Thought (note that all metaphysic systems above employ only one function of the mind whereas the super-consciousness would use all conscious and unconscious functions of many minds), and this discrepancy leads to the idea that the sorcerers speak with the words of the creator, but they are always lacking. In other words, the sub-creation of sorcery is never as rich, complete and meaningful as the creation, and this discrepancy is the origin of the concept of the blood of the onta. view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 30 October 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

The Chorae

The Trinkets fall rather nicely into this concept. If sorcery is a Onefold Thought where an insinuation of more in the perceived reality is turned into perceived reality by creating absolute meaning, the Chorae would prevent this by removing the insinuations of more. That is precisely why they are felt by a sorcerer as an absence in the onta (DB, Ch.1). The name is presumably derived from

χωρη - proper place

and this is literally what the Trinkets do - they locally force true reality to be in its 'proper place', i.e. to equal perceived reality. In other words, they destroy reality in order to reinforce an illusion of perception. Small wonder a sorcery based on contradiction like the Aporos was necessary for their creation!

Interestingly enough, it seems the Chorae must touch skin to offer protection from sorcery (WP, Ch.18). The question remains as to why Chorae destroy sorcerers as soon as they have actually used sorcery. It seems in most cases sorcerers touched by a Chorae turn to salt (e.g. TT, Ch. 16), but in some cases, cf. the end of Moënghus, this does not seem to happen. Partially, the explanation may be that Chorae are needed by RSB as a device for the story - without their threat, given the power of sorcery, there would be no need for conventional warfare with armies. It is chiefly the threat of Chorae bowmen which prevents sorcery from becoming the chief means of warfare, so this property of the Chorae is rather needed.

But (leaving aside the salt as a nice dramatic touch) it would also fit into the pattern outlined here. A sorcerer using sorcery leans out of the reality perceived by other people by creating absolute meaning. This other reality (created by the super-consciousness of the Thousandfold Thought) adjusts and is forced locally to agree with the sorcerer's reality. But this adjustment may not be perfect, so in a sense a sorcerer after using sorcery never quite remains in the same reality as other people. Given that true reality is sufficiently indefinite, that doesn't matter. The Chorae however force true reality to agree with perceived reality and hence leave no place for the slightly different reality of the sorcerer, therefore destroying him.

There are also mentions of 'anarcane ground' (TT, Gl. 'Arithau') in the text on which renders sorcery impotent. This may or may not fall into the ideas developed here, there's simply not enough information to judge how anarcane ground works. view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 30 October 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

The strangers - the Nomen and Inchoroi

Into this cosmology, strangers intrude, the Inchoroi, the people of the void. There is little doubt that the Incû-Holoinas, the Ark-of-the-sky, is a crash-landed spaceship. Aurang, one of the surviving Inchoroi, recalls that he has 'looked across the void and blotted [the] world by holding a fingertip before it' (TT, Ch.12) which is just the view from a spaceship approaching a planet. He also describes himself as 'a son of the void you call heaven' (ibid).

The Inchoroi are 'a race with hundred names for the vagaries of ejaculation who had silenced all compassion, all pity, to better savour the reckless chorus of their lusts' and 'reapers of thousands' (ibid) although they describe themselves as 'a race of lovers'. Which in essence means they are driven by their rather unrestrained hungers, lusts and passions. By their own standards however they are in all likelihood not particularly amoral or evil, although judged by the standards of Eärwa, there is no doubt that they are.

Their first contact is with the Nomen, which at that time seem to be not too different from men - after all, they have the same capabilities for sorcery and they seem to share the same basic morality and beliefs. In the first encounters, the Inchoroi rely on weapons of light (TT, Gl. 'Cûno-Inchoroi-Wars') against the sorcery of the Nomen. These weapons of light may well be beam weapons like lasers, the important point is that there is no evidence that the Inchoroi knew or used sorcery initially.

Supporting evidence is given by the nature of the Tekne, the non-sorcerous craft of the Inchoroi used to manufacture living flesh (e.g. the Sranc). It is based 'on the presumption that everything in nature, including life, is fundamentally mechanical' (TT, Gl. 'Tekne'). This presumption (which, incidentially, is not so different from the Dûnyain view) clearly argues against any concept of original Inchoroi sorcery. The name seems to originate from Greek

τεχνη - art, craft

which is also at the root of the word 'technology'.


Indeed, the second major strike against the Nomen is presumably made by using the Tekne - in the form of first the Womb Plague (presumably some kind of bioweapon) and then hordes of Sranc, Bashrags and Dragons. The Inchoroi do have Chorae at this point, but they were devised by 'seduced practitioners of the Aporos' (TT, Gl. 'Cûno-Inchoroi-Wars') and not by the Inchoroi themselves. The eventual defeat of the Inchoroi by the hands of the Nomen was owed to 'exhaustion of their fell weapons' (ibid) - so there is in fact no evidence that the Inchoroi fully grasped the concept of sorcery before their contact with the Mangaecca and their transformation to what would eventually become the Consult. However, the Inchoroi are clearly able to work sorcery, as numerous times evident from Aurang's use of it. The use of bioweapons may or may not persist to very late times, cf. the Indigo Plague following the wake of the First Apocalypse (TT, Gl. 'Indigo Plague').

There is one interesting reference to Skin-Spies denoting themselves as 'Keepers of the Inverse Fire' (TT, Ch. 9). However, the meaning of this rather obscure remark is not readily clear. It just possibly may denote the long-lost meaning of a function aboard a spacecraft, i.e. someone in charge of a retro-thruster, but that is a long shot in speculation, and the Skin-Spies do not actually seem to know themselves what it means (ibid). view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 30 October 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

The Inchoroi problem and its solution - the No-God

The goal of the Consult is, at least as guessed by Kellhus, to seal the world to the outside to avoid the possibility of damnation (TT, Ch. 16) and thus to save their souls. Given the fundamentally different mindset and morality of the Inchoroi, they would surely fail by the moral standards of Inrithism and Fanimry, so their concern was quite real once the Inchoroi accepted the reality of the Outside and he afterlife.

In the light of what has been said above, what happens is that the Inchoroi intruded into the superconsciousness of Eärwa which emerged from the minds of mankind (and, prior to that, the Nomen) which shaped reality and, to a much greater degree, the nature of the Outside. In their own world, there was either no superconsciousness, or it was of a very different nature as it was dominated by Inchoroi minds, but on Eärwa the Inchoroi (especially after the wars against Nomen) were a minority and the nature of the Outside was dominated by mankind, leaving no influence to them. As a result, they were caught up in a reality which did not judge them by their own standards, and therefore damned by the superconsciousness of Eärwa, the God. The role of the human members of the Consult is rather similar, although they lack the 'excuse' that their amoral conduct is genuinely part of their nature.

One solution to the dilemma is the extermination of mankind. After all, the superconsciousness so inimical to them emerges from the minds of men, so if mankind can be exterminated to the point that the minds of the Inchoroi dominate the superconsciousness and hence reality, their problem is solved.

Note that there is no evidence that the Inchoroi initially realized this problem. When dealing with the Nomen, they actually gave the male members of the race immortality whereas they killed the females with the Womb Plague. Simply giving back youth to the Nomen, but not immortality would have exterminated them quite efficiently within a generation. It is probably fair to say that the Inchoroi had opportunity for genocide at this point, but (for whatever reasons) chose not to do so. Presumably, their decision is driven by cruelty - after all, the Nomen could not possibly have the brain capacity to deal with the memories of a vastly increased lifetime, nor did they have the technology to address the problem, so the original plan may have been to see the surviving Nomen go mad over time without any hope of renewal for their race. This in essence is exactly what happened to the Nomen. Presumably, only after the Inchoroi learned sorcery and grew familiar with the nature of the Outside did they make plans to seal the world.

Summarized, the problem of the Consult is an emergent superconsciousness, the God, which is determined by the majority of Eärwan minds. Their solution to this problem is another superconsciousness of their own making, the No-God, and all of his known properties can be understood from this perspective.

The God emerges from multiple self-referencing loops. The perception of the God determines reality, but reality determines the brains of people, those determine minds, and these minds in turn determine the God. So the God shapes reality and is in turn shaped by reality. Likewise, he perceives in reality his own action and hence himself - the main feature of conscious awareness.

The No-God cannot arise as a self-referencing concept (otherwise he would, as the God, become dominated by the minds of men). It cannot be allowed to be shaped by reality but must be 'anchored' somehow in reality and from this point shape only. Thus, note that unlike the God, the No-God can be localized. Not only is he inside the Carapace, but people even feel where he is from afar (TT, Gl. 'Mursiris'). The core of the No-God is some creation of both Tekne and sorcery, presumably some kind of computing core, which can support a superconsciousness. 11 Chorae are embedded in his Carapace (TT, Gl. 'No-God'). The idea that this would be to guard some creature of flesh against sorcery is rather absurd - after all, we know that Chorae only work when touching skin! Rather, the point of the Chorae seems to be to anchor the core of the No-God such that it cannot be shaped (because the Chorae suppress any possibilities in true reality beyond the local perceived reality, and hence any room for shaping) but can shape everything else except himself.

Being a superconsciousness, the No-God primarily conducts a 'spiritual warfare' - in other words wars with the God for domination in shaping reality, in particular the Outside. The 'alternative' Outside created by the No-God can be felt as presence (or absence) in the onta rather similar to the way Chorae can be felt as absence in the onta - as a discrepancy to the 'normal' state of reality caused by the God. The 'alternative Outside' at least partially works - the cycle of souls is disrupted by the No-God - children are stillborn (TT, Gl. 'No-God') and those who died on the field of Mengedda encountering the No-God pass no further. But on the other hand, the 'alternative reality' is not absolute - mankind is not exterminated outright.

The No-Gods has the ability to control Sranc, Bashrag, Dragons and other creations of the Tekne. Again, this is a one-way pattern: The No-God comes from outside the minds of the creatures (i.e. from the core inside the carapace) and controls them, unlike the God he is not in any way influenced by their minds. The ability probably is connected to the idea to make vast majorities of (admittedly almost soulless) creatures believe and perceive reality in a given manner, but certainly proved useful in battles. However, in order to do so, the Consult needed to equip the No-God with enough self-awareness to understand the (self-aware) creatures he was supposed to control.

Nevertheless, the No-God was a superconsciousness, a being of vast intelligence and ability far surpassing any of the Consult, but with only a rudimentary self-awareness and determined by a set of instructions how to shape the alternative reality the Consult desired. Thus, in a sense the Consult worshiped him as a being far beyond their abilities. The No-God, being self-aware, must have asked the question about himself at some point, and its vast intelligence probably very quickly revealed the huge blind spots in his self-image. But by the very purpose of his design as acting one way, the No-God could only shape but not be shaped, only control but not be controlled and only perceive the outside, but not himself directly.

To bring out this difference more clearly: Every time a man experiences the God or the action of God somewhere, the God is directly aware of this and hence also self-aware, since the mind of the man having the experience is also part of the superconsciousness of God. Not so for the No-God - even in any creature (say a Sranc) experiences the No-God or an action of the No-God, the No-God is not directly aware of this since its 'mind' is different from the mind of the Sranc by design.

The No-God's situation can be understood in analogy with the situation of a man having no conscious experience or memory of, say, going to work. He can infer from various facts (money on his account, the passing of time indicated by his watch, people mentioning having seen him at work...) that he indeed is going to work on weekdays, but that is indirect knowledge. Quite possibly, figuring out what happens with him will shortly be an overwhelming desire of this man, and he will continuously ask questions like 'Did you see me yesterday? What did I do?'.

Similarly after a while, this absence of information must have been the main question driving the No-God (quite contrary to what the Consult would have wanted), and thus his main concern on the field of Mengedda was to know himself:

What do you see?
I must know what you see.
Tell me!
What am I?
view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 31 October 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

Tilberian, I disagree with a lot of what you claim here.

We know, today, that there is no such thing as a soul, as defined by the traditional religions.


No, we don't really know that. Some people believe it, because they haven't seen it. But then, neuroscientists or psychologists do not even have a viable definition of what soul is (neither is there any real concept of how to precisely define consciousness by the way) - so how do you look for something in an experiment when you can't even define it?

We can account for all the energy and matter in a body, and a dead body (with the soul presumably gone) has just as much energy and matter as a live one (though the energy quickly bleeds off into the environment as cellular processes shut down).


As you notice yourself, the dead body loses energy. There is an amount of energy stored in neuroelectrical processes which is not there any more after death - so the dead body has less energy than the life one. This does neither prove nor disprove the notion of a soul leaving the body. Quite obviously, consciousness leaves the body after death, so if your point were true, would the fact that we account for all matter and energy disprove consciousness? I think rather not. Consciousness seems to be a pattern rather than an energy form - and the soul may be as well.

There is nowhere for an immortal soul to be and no coherent description of how such a thing might communicate with a brain.


Then again, we have no coherent description of how consciousness ties with brain activity. Just because we don't understand something, it doesn't mean it isn't there.

We have good models of how the brain can work the way it does using only the substance of this universe. References to the supernatural quickly devolve into incoherence.


I have yet to see one good model which explains how the brain can generate consciousness. I have read arguments from philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists, AI researchers - the only one who came close to giving a definition which seemed to be on the right track happened to be a mathematician. We do have models how neurons and neuron networks work - but they don't explain anything relevant. They don't explain why I am a conscious, individual person. So if you are aware of a good model, please tell me where to look. I have been looking for the best part of 10 years, and I haven't found it anywhere.

With only material processes to guide the action of the brain, it is at least theoretically possible to perfectly chart the course of action any brain will take while thinking before it happens.


Given the actual experimental evidence, you state a belief here, not a fact.

As material beings, our actions are completely deterministic (yes, yes, random at the quantum level but that is irrelevant). There is no free will, everything is proceeding according to the laws of nature as set in motion at the beginning of time.


The interesting thing is that you would dismiss the quantum level as irrelevant. Why? The large scale structure of the universe is driven by quantum fluctuations in the early state after the big bang for starters - so how can you possibly claim that everything since the beginning of time is deterministic? In what sense? The quantum state certainly follows deterministic evolution - but the observable state doesn't. So in essence, what you claim to know here is how quantum physics ties with the phenomenon that generates conscious observation - and you don't actually know that. No one does.

So, you believe the world is deterministic, and there is no soul. But you have zero actual evidence for that really being so. So it's interesting that you'd make a claim such as:

There is simply no evidence for the existence of souls, and smart people don't believe in things for which there are no evidence.


That's rather snobbish. The very notion of belief implies that there is not necessarily evidence. If I have evidence, I don't have to believe, I know. So - Einstein believed in god, but he didn't have any evidence. Does that mean Einstein was not a smart person? You believe in a deterministic universe, although there is plenty of evidence to the contrary (as far as the observable universe is concerned, as I said, not on the level of quantum states) - does that mean you are not a smart person? view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 03 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

Actually, souls are quite well defined in dictionaries and reams of religious text. That is, the idea of a soul is quite well defined. What is missing from all those definitions is any description of the soul as a real, natural entity. All definitions of the soul make reference to the supernatural, which is not testable nor even a coherent concept. So you are right in saying that natural science will never even be able to start looking for a soul.


Yes. I think we can safely dismiss the notion that religious texts are true in the same sense as scientific texts, i.e. as a sequence of exact definitions tied to observations of nature. Quite obviously, for this reason of terminology alone, before we go looking for a soul, the definition would have to be formulated in scientific terms somehow. So, you may ask, is there an invariant piece of mind which is not lost after death. Which of course would require you to define mind - a task in which science is rather bad, given the amount of suggested definitions.

My point was that the energy does not disappear into some extradimensional realm.


Strangely enough, the upcoming physics program at the CERN Large Hadron Collider is (among other things) looking for energy which 'disappears into some extradimensional realm' (see [url=http&#58;//en&#46;wikipedia&#46;org/wiki/Large_extra_dimension:a6aw9hsr]here[/url:a6aw9hsr] for one of the suggested models). So present day particle theorists think it quite possible that the very thing you rule out actually happens.

It is still there, in the environment. If a person died in a perfectly insulated, non-conductive room, the amount of energy in the room would not change after his death.


Again, that presupposes there is any such thing as a perfectly insulated, non-conductive room. But as soon as you say 'room', you need spacetime. As soon as you have spacetime, you have gravitational waves which go right through your room because the only way to shield spacetime from vibrating is to create an event horizon - but that's a black hole, not a room. And even those radiate energy.

This is not consistent with the idea of a soul leaving the body and flying up to heaven. If it is your claim that the soul is made of an energy pattern in the body, then I guess it is also your belief that souls die after the body does, since all the energy in the brain becomes disorganized and returns to the environment.


Certainly, taking 'up to heaven' literally makes it inconsistent. The pattern being preserved somehow in the fabric of spacetime via gravitational waves, or the pattern leaking into extra dimensions and being stored in the underlying brane reality is a possibility. I don't claim I know what happens to souls or if there is one - I just know enough ways how an invariant core of mind may be preserved after death.

There is no soul and there is no consciousness outside of the electrochemical activity in a brain.


Well, that's just your claim. But unless you prove it, it remains your opinion, no? Just repeating it doesn't make it true.

You might just as well marvel at the fact that a computer is able to perform calculations.


That illustrates a very good point. While in the brain you insist that everything is electrochemical activity, for a computer you'd distinguish between hardware and software. But you wouldn't in any way insist that the software needs to run on a particular CPU - instead of an electronic CPU, it may as well be processed optically. It actually doesn't have a real CPU at all - it can be a virtual CPU simulated by another machine. So the (non-conscious) software is in fact a concept that 'transcends' the running in a particular environment (you'd probably agree that copying a program and running it on a different computer gives me the same software running on a different computer) - whereas you think it flatly impossible that the (conscious) 'software' of the brain can be realized in any way except neuroelectricity. Interesting - but not really plausible.

Look up a picture of a CAT scan. Your search is over: that is consciousness.


No, that's a picture of brain activity. That's not the same thing. That's like taking a snapshot of memory activity in a computer and claiming you understand what the algorithms are. That's confusing hardware and software. There is no way of telling from even the most colorful picture if the mind which is depicted is conscious or not. Try to think about it!

Incidentially, just last week I read an interview with Wolf Singer, a leading German neuroscientist - he wasn't prepared to take the position you are advocating here that brain activity scans answer any fundamental questions. In fact, he called the notion misleading.

The only way in which it would not be theoretically possible to chart the action of the brain would be if the brain were not a macroscopic part of this universe. Since it demonstrably is, my statement is fact.


Define 'this universe'. String theory has plenty of hidden ones which couple only by gravity to 'this one'. In the end, it's a meaningless question, because in any scientific formulation of soul, the religious 'heaven' would in some sense have to be a part of 'this universe' - maybe a hidden one, but certainly not disconnected - how else would the soul go there?

Everything since then is deterministic in the sense that effect follows cause, invariably, and in perfectly predictable ways. Quantum effects do not count at the macroscopic level. We can ignore them for the sake of this discussion.


No, sorry, the DVD drive in the computer in front of you is based on a quantum effect playing out macroscopically. The sun works because of quantum effects playing out macroscopically. Neither of these works in a deterministic way - it's just that randomness in large numbers allows statistics to say something about the most probable outcome, but that's not deterministic, because you can always have a different outcome.

But the actual problem is more fundamental. It has to do with the transition from quantum state to the observed state. You can read up a bit on [url=http&#58;//en&#46;wikipedia&#46;org/wiki/Decoherence:a6aw9hsr]Quantum Decoherence[/url:a6aw9hsr]. To quote the main message:

Decoherence does not provide a mechanism for the actual wave function collapse; rather it provides a mechanism for the appearance of wavefunction collapse. The quantum nature of the system is simply &quot;leaked&quot; into the environment so that a total superposition of the wavefunction still exists, but exists — at least for all practical purposes — beyond the realm of measurement. Thus decoherence, as a philosophical interpretation, amounts to something similar to the many-worlds approach.

Funnily enough, here's the second way how present-day physics understanding generates worlds beyond our own... They are rather plentiful to find I must say.

Well, in short you are completely wrong about the universe being deterministic - but I can't give you a complete lecture in quantum field theory here.

Many scientists refer to God when they are trying to talk about the larger structure of the cosmos. This almost never means they believe in one of the traditional, personal Gods of religion.


I do know many scientists. In fact, I am one (in case you haven't guessed, I'm making my money doing theoretical physics, applications of quantum field theory). And when they talk about God, they usually mean the traditional, personal God of religion.

Please point to one particle of evidence that shows that the universe is non-deterministic above the quantum level.


Your question is ill-posed. Anything 'above the quantum level' is an effective concept how we try to cast the universe into a shape we can perceive. In nature, there is nothing 'above the quantum level' (and probably, even the quantum level is a gross approximation of reality). In its very nature, in its foundation, the universe is quantum. Regardless of how your perception creates the illusion of determinism. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 04 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

You see, the core of this issue is about here:

Let me ask you this: is it your contention that we should admit the possible existence of anything that we can imagine unless we have proof positive that it does not exist?
(...) I prefer to establish a threshold of improbability, below which I deem a thing to not exist for all practical purposes. No one has ever observed energy patterns from brains or elsewhere being preserved in gravity waves or branes. The very existence of branes is controversial. No one can even postulate how such a thing might happen. Why, for the love of Pete, would I accept, at all, the assertion that such a thing is happening? Maybe I'm terribly stogey, but I like to observe a rather strict boundary between fantasy and reality.


You did not write that based on the available evidence, you'd consider the existence of a soul unlikely. You claimed it does not exist. You did not write that energy leaking into an extra dimension is a possibility considered by some. You claimed it doesn't happen. You wrote with an air of absolute certainty - and to that I object. Because moden physics is a strange place with the universe not being what it seems to be.

So, is there any evidence of a soul? Well, one may cite some accounts people have given of memories of a prior life. Admittedly most of them are rubbish, day-dreams to increase self-importance. But some give an astounding amount of detail. You'd claim of course that they have debunked - but that depends on what you read. I have tried to go through accounts from both sides, I have spoken with people who claim to remember previous lifes - and I simply don't know. That's the whole point here - I don't know. I think a lot of experiences, accounts, a lot of the similarity of core religious beliefs could fit into one overarching theory if there was some way mind would be directly connected to the environment, via quantum entanglement, gravitational waves, brane reality, whatever. You mentioned the fact that Cygnus X-1 was predicted before it was seen as good evidence for black hole theory. (Incidentially, there is currently no direct really strong field test of gravitation - Cygnus X-1 could be a compact object stabilized by unknown means, it doesn't have to have an event horizon - the 'evidence' for it actually being a black hole is that we have no other explanation - which isn't quite the same thing). So, what if I tell you that Jewish mysticism pretty much predicted wave-particle dualism? Of course, you'd argue that given enough text, you can predict anything. But then, gravitation had competitors, there were a number of predictions from different theories, and one of them happened to be confirmed by Cygnus X-1 - so why is that different? In looking at successful predictions, we tend to forget the 20 other predictions from different theories which are no longer around because they failed to predict, although they were equally considered before a measurement.

I'd be entirely fine with the notion that a 'soul' currently hasn't any hard evidence going for it - it's rather soft circumstantial evidence, given scientific standards. But that isn't likely to change - you can't actually do research in mind-matter entanglement or anything like that - you get your funding cut. Look at [url=http&#58;//en&#46;wikipedia&#46;org/wiki/Brian_David_Josephson:2uk4aw51]Brian Josephson[/url:2uk4aw51] - he is a Nobel price winner, and he lost funding. Society doesn't even offer physicists to do that kind of research. So how the hell is anyone to accumulate hard evidence?

A soul may even not be there at all, I'm not claiming a know it is. Neither may free will be. But I think your view is too narrow. There is too much stuff, too many open ends to tell, and that's what I am trying to argue here. It's nowhere near a case as clear-cut as you'd want it to be.

So, some technical details:

If you want to use highly theoretical extra dimensions as a hiding place for souls, be my guest, but first do me the favour of explaining how they are going to get there without accessing the incredible energies that will be unleashed at CERN.


You need the energies at CERN to create gravitons which you can actually observe - you can create gravitons with much lower energy, you just can't see those in a detector. You see, in any accelerator experiment there is missing energy. Part of it just goes down the beampipe, part of it is neutrinos which you usually don't get to see, so if there is a low-energy graviton produced somewhere, it just doesn't register. In fact, there should be gravity coupling to any process which involves energy (the particles you consist of are pulled to earth).

No energy &quot;disappears,&quot; and the energy in a human brain is immortal in exactly the same way as the energy in a light bulb is immortal.


*shrugs* To be strict, energy is the time-component of a 4-vector, as such it's not an invariant (the mass is...) and thus you can change its value to anything above the value of the invariant mass. Well - that's special relativity for you. In general relativity, energy only has a meaningful definition if you have a flat space somewhere - then you can define energy-momentum as a flux across that surface. Otherwise, energy doesn't have a meaningful definition at all.

But we're not talking about energy disappearing - I was suggesting the notion that a pattern is preserved which does not cost much energy.

A movie of a CAT scan would show the brain activity shifting and changing with time as different processes occur. That would be a movie of consciousness.


Look, if I try to understand software, a look at the source code would be meaningful. Not a look at a movie how the memory occupation shifts in time while the software runs. So why should a look at 'the play of energies' (I guess it's actually blood flow and blood suger consumption which you're seeing - X-rays don't actually scatter off electricity) in the brain reveal how its software works?

you can tell if a person is conscious or not from a CAT scan


No, you can tell that there is brain activity - how does that necessarily imply self-awareness? I can't even by talking to you verify that you are conscious (well, yes, in the medical sense I can, but that's not what I mean) - you could give the same responses without being aware of it in any way.

Yawn. Look hard enough and you will find someone who will say anything


Mind if I apply that quote to Richard Dawkins? <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) --> I mean, yeah, if I declare everyone you quote as irrelevant, then of course I am always right, that's for sure.

Are you seriously taking this to the level of asking me to define what the universe is?


Yes, actually I am. If there would be a 'parallel brane' that somehow would only exchange gravitational waves with this one and you wouldn't normally observe those (see above) - would this be one universe in your terminology or two (tenuously connected) ones? I'm not after something profound - I just wish to clear terminology.

There you go again, forgetting to treat events that are sufficiently improbable as impossible and forgetting to treat entities that are sufficiently improbable as nonexistent.


Well, that's what a probabilistic world is:

Suppose we have a dice and it produces random numbers from 1-6 with equal probability. That's as probabilistic as it gets. So I throw it 10.000 times. Of course I can predict that if I sum all the rolls, I get close to 35.000. The chance to get exactly 35.000 is rather small, but I'll be close. That is precisely how a probabilistic world works. But of course, as opposed to a deterministic one, I can't know the result of the next throw. In a deterministic world, I would know the next result, as well as exactly the sum after 10.000. In a probabilistic world, I deal with fluctuations around that most probable. So are you telling me throwing dice is deterministic because I will most likely be close to 35.000?

A probabilistic world doesn't equal complete loss of predictivity. That's non-linearities which do that - and they do it in equal measure for the probabilistic and for the deterministic world (except when you have perfect knowledge of the initial state). Different thing. So in any strongly non-linear system, quantum randomness will eventually govern the long-term dynamics. So, question is - is the brain a non-linear system. And yes, it seems to be.

So, a deterministic sun doesn't shine. The reason is that the fusion reaction doesn't happen - the nuclei don't get through the charge repulsion. But in a probabilistic world, there is a small chance of tunneling. It's tiny (the energy output per volume of the sun is less than the nergy output of the human body per volume) - but there are many particles throwing dice. The sun shines, because if you throw a dice in sequences of 20 throws, it is actually possible to get them all being 1 once in a while. And if you have enough people throwing dice, then it's fine.


Take a look at the passage you just quoted: &quot;...the waveform exists, but exists - at least for all practical purposes - BEYOND THE REALM OF MEASUREMENT.&quot; Do you understand what that means? It means the unobserved position of the waveform does not exist, for any purposes that we can possibly have.


I understand perfectly well what 'measurement' means - it's a well defined term in quantum physics. I just wonder if you do. In particular, it doesn't equal 'has no influence' or 'does not exist' - there could still be quantum entanglement between the states/different worlds and they would influence each other. The problem is that you can't measure that influence because you can't set up a non-entangled reference point. But that doesn't mean you are not influenced by the other state.

The critical point is that I am talking about mass movements and you keep taking it back to the level of the individual particle. Why?


I'd guess because I understand the problem of the transition from microscopic to macroscopic. You don't, you insist it's just 'gone'. I know that this 'gone' is nothing but a convenient fiction. You argue that it's 'just math'. Well, souls are 'just religion', Wolf Singer is 'just a guy saying stuff', physics is 'just math' - yes, sure, if you dismiss anything which contradicts you, then your belief in determinism will not shake. It's just not smart to do that. <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) --> view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 10 November 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

Mithfânion:

(your nick sounds rather Elvish actually - although in Sindarin compounds long syllables typically shorten, so Tolkien would most likely have made that rather Mithfanion)

To address your questions:

Would Chorae not also ward off a sorcerous attack on the No-God in his carapace?


Yes, I guess they would do that. The question is - would the No-God actually need that protection? I know sorcery can be very, very powerful - but different sorcerous schools can all cast meaningful wards to defend against each other. If sorcery is absolute belief of one person shaping reality, and the No-God's purpose is to shape reality in a far more comprehensive sense than any of the Consult could - would he not be able to create wards powerful enough? My impression is that the No-God is far more in danger from the God than from sorcerers and needs the Chorae for this reason.

1) If the No-God is warded off from outside intervention, how is he to know what the Consult desires from him?


First, I don't think he is completely cut off from the outside - he just has no direct awareness of it. It's a bit like the difference between being able to see a picture (i.e. being directly aware of it) and to have somebody describe it to you (i.e. indirectly) - the latter sort of works, but is far slower and moreover controlled by a second party - whoever describes the picture might lie to you. But I don't think that is the issue here. If my guesses are correct, then the No-God is a construct which is part Tekne. So his fundamental structure, his desires are built in as the Consult would have them. Like a human mind, the No-God would have a conscious part, in which he is self-aware, and an unconscious part, and deep down in the unconscious part, there would be the desires and goals specified by the Consult. In spite of being a much superior intellect and a much more powerful being, by virtue of being created with this set of desires, he could not do anything but share the goals of the Consult - even when he takes command of the Consult, they would always know that he shares their goals, even when they cannot even remotely understand in what ways he works towards them.

2) How can the No-God change the shape of The Outside?


Well, starting from The many regions of the Outside then represent diminishing levels of objectivity where circumstances yield more and more to desire we can infer that the Outside is usually shaped by belief ('desire'). Personalize this belief, and you get the God, which by his very nature defines the Outside. The No-God is in my view just an artificial mirror-image of the God, but of the same principle. So he shapes the Outside by artificial belief. Personally I don't know how to create artificial belief, but then, I'm not an expert in Tekne or Gnosis. <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) -->

3) What do you make of the fact that the only known weapon to him any harm is The Heron Spear, which is in fact an Inchoroi weapon? The Heron Spear being an original Inchoroi and thus non-sorcerous weapon would explain why it can harm the No-God, since the chorae cannot protect him from that.


Well, I'm not sure if I would make anything too profound out of it. The problem is like this - I don't think (Chorae or not) that sorcery could harm the No-God. Thus, you wish to destroy a floating, armoured metal carapace. How? By shooting arrows? Hardly. By somehow floating up and banging it with a sword? Not really. A beam weapon like the Heron Spear which has a powerful effect and yet can be fired from the ground is about what you need. I guess a surface-air missile would do equally well, but that kind of weapon was not around. If you think of it, there are not so many weapons around which could crack open the carapace at all.

Athjeari:

Time will only tell if this is the direction Bakker will take.....unless you apply the principles of causality.


Well, given that Scott for a while posted in this place, I could not help remembering a mean trick I used when I was a gamemaster. I posed a riddle without having any idea about its solution - it was just cool and mysterious. Then I would wait and observe the players discuss. And from the best ideas they could come up with, I would construct my solution. Which quite often were better than mine - and moreover, the players were very happy that they could 'figure out' such a difficult riddle... So, there might be a possibility that what people write here actually influences the eventual answers <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) --> - which makes it even more complicated. view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 10 November 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

Curethan:


I think it might be pertinent to mention that I recall the no-god being described as summoned. Whilst agreeing that he is a product of both Tekne and sorcery, the only mention of summoning comes from the daimos - which I also note was skipped in Thorsten's summary of sorceries. As the scarlet spires discovered the daimos post 1st apocolypse, I would like to inject some baseless speculation that perhaps it is a form of sorcery originally native to the inchoroi and perhaps connected to their outside, mwahaha. (recall the demon's reference to Earwa as the 'needle world', obviously a highly alien plane of existence)


This is actually a good point. It's true that the No-God is in some places described as being 'summoned'. I also remember a reference where it is said that he first 'drew breath'. The question is - should we take these literally? It is made abundantly clear that no one (except the Consult, and they don't tell) really knows what the No-God is or how he appeared. Thus, I took these references as figures of speech - the sorcerers don't really know how the No-God appeared, thus they imagine he was summoned. They don't know what event marked his coming first, so they say he drew breath.

As for the Daimos, the reason I did not include it in the list is that the list is of different principles underlying sorcery, whereas the Daimos seems to be a description of a result. Thus, the way I understood it, you could use the Anagogis or the Gnosis to summon, it's just a particular application of a metaphysics, not a metaphysics in itself. Of course, I may be wrong here, and I have to look into this in a bit more detail to make sure. view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 11 November 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

anor277:

apart from the analogies to quantum mechanics; one can make better analogies than drawing them from abstruse forms of wave and matrix equations that are only approachable with a more symbolic language than English


*g* Well, if there is a better analogy, I have never come across it (which doesn't mean that it doesn't exist of course). I am curious - what would you draw the analogy from? Incidentially, I would be very curious if Scott had Quantum Physics as analogy in mind or not - if you look at some text passages, I think it was the concept of 'world between', i.e. the world when it is not observed, that could literally be from a physics textbook. And if not - what did he have in mind? <!-- s:?: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_question.gif" alt=":?:" title="Question" /><!-- s:?: -->

Curethan:

Thorsten, can you tell me the greek root for daimos?


That would be another word difficult to translate

δαίμων - god, goddess, the power controlling the destiny of individual, lot, fortune, soul of men of the golden age, departed souls, spiritual or semi-divine being, evil spirit, demon, the Good Genius

Anyway, it denotes some kind of spiritual being. You can have a go using the [url=http&#58;//www&#46;perseus&#46;tufts&#46;edu/cgi-bin/resolveform:3kjqpra8]Perseus search engine[/url:3kjqpra8] - it seems to include all of classical Greek.

The demons are credited with some PoV narrative indicating they are sentient, perhaps ensoulled, i dont know. Thats a much larger result than long distance communication, compulsion, illusion or even destruction in relation to Thorsten's systematic analysis of the four major subsets.


Yes and no. The sorcerer isn't responsible for the sentience. All he does is use what is already there, so summoning and using a demon is conceptually rather a cant of transposition (which in this case is easier than the one used by Kellhus because one end refers to the Outside which is more changeable) and a cant of compulsion. You wouldn't credit sorcery for the fact that Esmenet has a soul while under compulsion either. view post


What if I told you, that nothing is real? posted 22 November 2008 in Philosophy DiscussionWhat if I told you, that nothing is real? by Thorsten, Candidate

What if I told you, that right now, everything around you might very well not exist?


Then I'd tell you that this is an ontological position known as [url=http&#58;//en&#46;wikipedia&#46;org/wiki/Solipsism:1mlcmn3w]Solipsism[/url:1mlcmn3w]. I'm not aware of any water-tight case which could be made against it, but all in all it's not a very plausible position.

Everything around you, you percieve with your senses. And your senses are then interpreted by your brain. Now, if human perception is all we have to go on, then we have a very narrow veiw of reality. In fact, everything we see, hear, touch, feel, and taste exists to us, but in reality only exists in our minds.


It is true that things are known to the mind only in the form of perceptions - but that does in no way disprove the existence of an outside reality, part of which we perceive. Indeed, that is the current scientific idea of how reality works - the 'true' reality are quantum states of fields, out of which perception creates the world of matter and energy you're more familiar with. The fact that, by persistent observation of nature, we actually came up with such a weird model of reality seems to argue somewhat against Solipsism - after all, if my mind makes up all the world around me, then why not do it in a simple-to-understand and pleasant way?

Such things as: Good, Evil, Love, Hate, Courage, Trust, Rightousness, Power, and even reality itself, in essence are all abstract concepts.


So what? Why would that lead you to the conclusion that they are not real? I'd argue that plenty of people have been killed for the sake of abstract concepts and ideas, so if they are not real, how can they cause people to be killed? They (like many other things) are not real in the same sense that a rock is real.

Well, consider a movie - say Shrek II on DVD. We can talk about it, we can watch it, so it clearly has some reality. Yet on the DVD are just magnetic markings - meaningless unless decoded. Still, the decoded signal is meaningless unless projected in a certain way onto a screen. And what is seen on the screen is also not real - we can't go to the studio and ask for an autograph of Shrek. So where in the whole thing is the movie? And yet, I'm willing to pay money to see it in a cinema, so it must be real, no? If it were just in my mind, why would I pay money?

* I could apply the same concept to Religion (which I do, I'm an atheist) but that's not what this topic is about.


You could certainly try, at which point you'd get in touch with yet one more sense of 'real' - the reality of revelation. view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts posted 25 November 2008 in The Thousandfold ThoughtThe metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts by Thorsten, Candidate

The engine doesn't recognize the word enthymeme, or even demos. I'm not saying that the entire Perseus Engine is no good, but I would check the defintions with other sources because I found to many words that were defined differently to me.


Well, possibly you searched for 'demos' but you should have searched for 'dhmos' because it's written with an eta rather than an epsilon - then you get a result. It's a bit tricky, it doesn't do spelling corrections. Actually, Perseus is a meta-search engine, the actual text (e.g. the definitions of demos) is from

Henry George Liddell. Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. revised and augmented throughout by. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1940.
ISBN: 0198642261

and in addition you do get pleny of text references to where to find it in the originals. So I guess one would rather be well off using it. view post


Countering the Argument posted 16 January 2009 in NeuropathCountering the Argument by Thorsten, Candidate

The Argument in short

Quite a lot of the contents of 'Neuropath' revolve around the Argument, story internally made in discussions between Neil and Thomas. Simply put, the Argument states that the human brain is a deterministic biological machine processing input from its environment and generating output from this input based on deterministic processes. As a result, notions such as 'selfhood', 'free will', 'decision making' or 'meaning' and ultimately 'consciousness' are illusions. While the mind thinks it executes a plan to realize some future goal, according to the Argument, the underlying reality is that the past state is just computed forward, the seeming future goal towards the mind proceeds is simply an illusion, in reality it is the past that determines what will happen, not the future vision.

In the novel, the Argument is illustrated by fictional neuroscientist Neil demonstrating that artificially stimulating and inhibiting several functions of the brain generates the experiences of desire, will, love, personality, spiritual experience and self which can be switched on and off externally, apparently demonstrating the claim that the mind is a mere machine.

Assume for the following that neuroscience can actually do all this what is described in 'Neuropath' (contemporary neuroscience actually can't, and based on the way genetics has not delivered on initial promises but discovered that things are actually much more complicated, my guess is neuroscience will likewise discover that things are far more complicated) - is the implication really that the Argument is true?

At least in the way it is made in 'Neuropath' and the way I have seen it presented by neuroscientists, I don't think it is. In the book, it actually appears very compelling, but it's just a trick. It's really full of substantial gaps which are (quite cleverly) glossed over in the text, and in the end it's down to belief, nothing more. The gaps roughly fall into three groups. With increasing severity one finds: Hidden assumptions in the logic of the Argument, a reliance in reductionism and an application of logic and rational thought in situations where it is known to fail. But before we go into the details, let's investigate some of the notions like of free will or decisionmaking without any input from neuroscience.

The notion of free will

Let us assume for the following a situation where two alternatives A and B are given and a person has a free choice between A and B, but cannot choose both A and B, and likewise must choose either A or B. This excludes situations where the person does not care about any of the alternatives - if A is 'you get 10 dollars' and B is 'you get 10 dollars' then this is not a choice, you might as well throw a dice. Likewise, if either A or B has very negative consequences, like A 'you get 10 dollars' and B 'you get life imprisonment', the choice is hardly free (I refrain from a detailed analysis of how to define negative consequences here, I don't think it's central to the discussion).

The notion of free will states that before the choice you think you could choose A or B. After the choice, you think you could have chosen the other alternative. Thus, how would one prove or disprove the notion?

Let us begin with the classical analysis. The simple answer is - you can't. There is no experiment that could establish before if both choices exist - because both of them are in the future, and consequently neither of them exists yet. But you can't do it after the choice either as long as you require a consistent past, because if you have chosen A you have in fact not chosen B and are left with the impression that you could have, but no prove. But if you have chosen B, you are in the very same situation left to ponder if you could have gone for A. The need to have a consistent past always creates the impression that the outcome, whatever it was, was inevitable and determined, because there is only one past.

(By the way, the same is true with many references to property X of the mind being the result of an evolutional adaption to the environment. You can point at everything and claim 'It is here, this proves that it must be the result of natural selection and evolution, otherwise it would not be here.' However, evolution doesn't quite work like this.)

Why do I talk about the need for a consistent past? Because there is the quantum analysis of the problem. And this states that you do in fact choose both alternatives, with the state vectors A' (having chosen A) and B' (having chosen B) are both part of your state after the decision, with a weight somehow determined by your personality. We don't experience any of this, and I have no clue why this is so, but since the point for me here is to counter the Argument, not to prove what is real, I don't have to explain it. Anyway, in the quantum analysis, there is no consistent past in terms of events as we usually know it, the requirement seems to be one of perception only.

Back to the classical problem: We could think about simply getting the subject back to the alternative and offer a new choice to see if the person now goes for the other alternative. But that doesn't work, because the situation is not the same - the subject has now a memory of the previous choice, so we still don't know if the other alternative could have chosen.

So, let's do a gedankenexperiment. I present you the store and reset chamber in which we can store a snapshot of the world in time and recover it with a button. We test someone in this chamber, he makes a choice, we note the choice and restore the moment before the choice and let him choose again, and thanks to the amasing chamber, it is really the same situation.

What outcome would we interpret as the action of free will? If a person, being in the same situation multiple times, chooses the same alternative every time, we'd conclude that he is determined by circumstances. If however he chooses different alternatives in the same situation, we'd conclude that the choice is random. There is no outcome that could convince us that free will is acting.

What this gedankenexperiment does is to illustrate that the notion of free will has nothing to do with proving the factual existence of alternatives or with determinism vs. randomness. It has to to with factoring imagined futures resulting from A and B into the decisionmaking process. Unlike my cat, I don't always respond directly to seeing food with running towards it and eating. Instead, even when I'm hungry I can project a future in which I will have a lavish dinner and should not spoil my appetite before, which influences my decision-making process (the Argument would still state that this is an illusion, I'll counter that later). So this is why I claim to have free will, but not the cat, because I can imagine virtual alternative futures and let them influence my decisions.

But of course I am determined by my will. That is exactly how we use the word - a strong willed person is one who is determined to do something, who is very predictable in his decision-making and sticks to his ideals instead of changing plans randomly. Freedom is not having 20 alternatives open to me (out of which I still can select only one), freedom is the lack of constraints which would prevent me from doing the one thing I want to do. I can't will in any other way than I am.

Who makes the decisions?

There is the argument that neuroscience can detect a decision by brain scanning before it becomes conscious, so consciousness doesn't make the decisions.

I am not surprised - how could it? Consciousness is a state, an experience, a self-observation, a self-reflection - not an active agency. So the decisions are made outside consciousness and become conscious afterwards - if you watch yourself carefully, you can observe this. I had situations in which I knew a decision was made, it just had to wait a week until it drifted into consciousness. It's the problem of finding what my will actually is (which is at times difficult). The mistake is to think any of this implies that it's not I who makes the decisions - of course it is! The oracle in Delphi already had γνῶθι σεαυτόν 'know thyself' inscribed on the entrance. This would be quite pointless if 'self' would be identical identical to 'conscious self'.

The point of all this is that neuroscience doesn't offer anything which people haven't worked out long ago. Before one claims that it contradicts our notions of something, it's a good idea to investigate what the notion actually is. After this excurse, back to the Argument.

Hidden assumptions in the Argument

In order to expose some weaknesses in the argument, let us consider the scene in which Neil induces a spiritual experience, the perception of the presence of god, in his victim. A reborn Christian later in the book is deeply disturbed by the fact that such experience can be induced artificially, and it seems to show that there is no god and no soul.

But let's replace the experience with something harmless - assume Neill had induced the perception of an apple. I am prepared to guess that no one would conclude from the fact that you can artificially induce the perception of an apple in a person that there are no apples.

So, if you have the prior notion that apples are real, you interpret the experiment to reveal something about the nature of the perception of reality, not about reality. But if you have the prior notion that god is not real, you are tempted to interpret the experiment to reveal something about the nature of reality.

But where would the prior notion that apples are real come from, if not from prior perception of apples? But if you accept that prior perception of apples argues for their independent reality, you have to find something other than the experiment to argue against an independent reality of god or a soul if you are arguing with a person who has experienced prior perception of god. The experiment does not tell.

To give a similar example - I may observe that a person cannot walk in spite of telling me he wants to. If this person's legs are broken, no one would say that his mind is damaged, but that the means by which the mind causes motion are damaged. If the person has a spinal injury, again I haven't ever heard the claim that the mind is damaged, but that the means by which the mind causes motion are damaged. But if the brain is damaged, neurologists suddenly insist that now it must be the mind itself, and not the means by which the mind expresses itself, that is damaged. But that is of course stating a belief, not a fact.

An analogy with the hardware/software of a computer shows the potential flaw here: If my computer has a buggy memory chip, it will do funny things. There is no point in trying to attribute the problem to the software, I can reinstall the OS, I can change from Windows to Linux (which I'd recommend anyway) - nothing on the software side is broken. So when I manipulate the hardware, I will manipulate the output of the computer, but I cannot conclude that this does anything to the software. Or who really believes that trashing his laptop will kill Windows? Software is information, a structure, changing a particular realization of the software doesn't change the software. So, what if brain manipulation is just changing the hardware - of course the mind cannot run properly on damaged hardware, that's just what you see - doesn't mean the mind would be gone. I don't know if the analogy is true, but the argument simply assumes that it is not, and that's again down to belief.

Reductionism

Science is often confused with reductionism, which in essence states 'find the parts and explain the properties of the whole as properties of its parts'. Thus, explain why humans eat: Easy reductionist problem, because the human body consists of cells, cell biochemistry needs nutrients, therefore we have to eat so that the cell biochemistry runs.

Reductionism works in cases where a few causes on the smaller scale can be identified as a reason for a phenomenon at larger scale. We can deal with logic in situations where three facts imply something. It's rather different for situations in which a million facts imply something, but not individually, only taken together.

Consider a painting, the Mona Lisa for example. Find its parts - small grains of pigment on canvas. In what sense would they 'explain' the painting? The Mona Lisa arises as a larger scale structure within these pigment grains, it can't be seen from the perspective of the parts. The Argument explains everything that cannot be explained by reductionism as illusion - consciousness is not real, because it is not in the underlying function of the neurons, therefore it is an illusion. I guess it would say that the Mona Lisa is an illusion, and in a sense it is.

Well, but why stop at the neuron level (except that neuroscientists are familiar with it)? Let's go further down the scale, into the elementary particle structure. Down at this scale are only fluctuating quantum fields, quarks, gluons, electrons, photons and other fields. They 'exist' for minimal periods of time, one cannot even point to the fields which make up a proton or an atom, because they have no identity, one cannot point to a field and say 'this is vacuum background and this is proton'. There is no way to explain how these fields imply the existence of a neuron from their basic properties. So by the above argument, the neuron itself is an illusion. In reality, there is no neural machinery doing anything - there are just quantum fields extremizing the action described by their Lagrangean function.

But presumably, the elementary particles when seen from a yet smaller scale are also an illusion.

So, consciousness is no more or less real as a neuron. It is simply a phenomenon at a different scale, which is poorly understood when viewed from the wrong scale. It's reductionism which does a bad job here.

The same trap opens up in claiming that 'in reality' there are no future goals towards things develop, only past condition from which everything follows. That's simply wrong. The underlying quantum states stretch through 4-dim spacetime. They have a structure which is given by the equations of motion, which states that if you know them on any 3-hypersurface, you can compute them in the whole of 4-dim spacetime.

The way this is usually done is to specify them in the 3-dim space of 'now' and to compute them into the future. But one can specify the evolution endpoint and compute backwards, it makes no difference. One can even compute sidewards - specify the world on a 2-dim sheet throughout the whole universe at all times, and compute how the rest of 3-dim space looks like. It. Does. Not. Matter. There is a 4-dim state with a certain structure. Viewing it as causally following from the past is no more correct as viewing it as developing towards a future endpoint, it is just another way of organizing our lack of intuition for 4-dim structures.

The precious time along which things are supposed to develop is also not an independent coordinate but a dynamical entity - it can wiggle, bend, fold upon itself, terminate or interchange role with space. There is nothing 'in which' time wiggles - only the 4-dim structure. Time itself is no more real than consciousness.

Applicability of logic

Perhaps the most serious point that can be brought forward against the Argument is that it is self-defeating. I was always under the impression when people are confronted with a logical chain of reasoning which ended in proving that 'I think, therefore I am' is wrong, they would realize that something is not right in the way logic has been applied. Turns out I was wrong.

So, the Argument is based on science, scientific method in turn is based on rational thought and application of logic. As 'Neuropath' mentions, one way to counter the Argument is to argue that science is not applicable, and Bakker goes into some length arguing that this doesn't work.

Well, it does, because arguing the success of science over religion by thermonuclear explosion vs. burning bush and science being the only system which produces unpleasant truths is misleading. Logic is an excellent tool if you apply it to some outside phenomenon, but it fails miserably when folded back onto itself.

Logic is not absolute, it relies on a choice of axioms which state what a valid deduction is and what not. Mathematics doesn't define the axioms, you can have many logical systems with self-consistent axiom systems. What is usually used in science is a particular choice of axioms. For example, we usually use transitivity: If A implies B, and B implies C, then A implies C. If Socrates is Athenian, and Athenians are Greeks, then Socrates is Greek. Sounds perfectly reasonable, but we can do logic without it, we just use it because we believe in its applicability. Same with connecting true statements - if A is true, and B is true, then this implies tha (A and B) is also true. If 'Socrates is an Athenian' is true and 'Socrates is a philosopher' is also true, then 'Socrates is an Athenian philosopher' must also be true. Sounds also very reasonable.

However, let's see what happens as soon as we introduce self-referencing statements: 'This sentence has five words' is true, 'This sentence begins with 'T'' is also true, but 'This sentence has five words and begins with 'T'' is obviously not true. The axioms don't survive self-referencing statements. There is a general theorem by Goedel which states that for any formal system (such as logic) there are statements which truth or falsehood cannot be decided within the system, although some of them can be obviously decided outside the system. The core of the proof uses self-referencing.

Now, the Argument is a prime example of self-referencing, although this is never stated. If one could prove that reason, self, intuition or consciousness are just meaningless concepts created by neural machinery, then the same could be shown for logic, which is, after all only yet another function of the conscious brain. But if you could prove that logic does not work, well, there would be no Argument. Thus, if the Argument is true, it cannot be made. If it cannot be made, it's down to belief and intuition.

Funnily enough, intuition can cope with self-references far better than logic. We are able to simply see through the paradox pattern, maybe because consciousness is in its very nature a self-referencing process. So, the Argument applies logic in a situation where we know logic fails and where we know intuition to be the better tool.

What does that mean?

I don't know of course, but my interpretation is that neuroscience or Neuropath or Neil don't in any way bring us closer to how 'reality is'. Granted, they show us an alternative picture of reality, based on a different set of assumptions and beliefs than usually done, but there is no compelling reason for this to be 'true'.

Thomas would of course argue that I try to argue away an unpleasant truth. But I'd argue that the fact that a claim is unpleasant doesn't make it true, the fact that a claim is pleasant doesn't make it false, and that science is just one way to organize reality (being a scientist, I have to be careful with these statements, I know how I mean it, but it is easily misunderstood and misused...), known to be problematic in the very situation he wants it to be applicable. So if people are prone to delude themselves, what makes neuroscientists think they are the exception?

'I think, therefore I am' seems a far more useful starting point for investigating consciousness - it has the advantage that it is at least not self-defeating. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 21 April 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

Finally I found out who this Richard Dawkins actually is (admittedly, I didn't really try) and where Tilberian's arguments come from. So, I got myself Dawkins' book 'The God Delusion' and went over Dawkins' arguments in some detail. To cut a long story short, I agree with Dawkins on all trivial counts, but I disagree with him on all the non-trivial things. He starts with the assumption that what he does works in establishing truth, then applies vastly different standards in judging evidence which confirms what he thinks is true as compared to evidence that contradicts what he thinks is true, and as a result he gets out what he puts in. So, I am not really impressed.

If anyone should be interested in the long story, I have written up most ideas in an essay [url=http&#58;//www&#46;phy&#46;duke&#46;edu/~trenk/various/science_and_god&#46;html:27tlbcoc]here[/url:27tlbcoc]. This is a tour through the roots of rationality, Goedel's incompleteness theorem, quantum physics, the consistency principle in the conscious mind, Zen Buddhism, evolution as played out at the quantum scale, non-rational paradigms for decisionmaking and game theory and a few more things, so I am afraid it is not quite easy reading. But then, Mr. Bakker's novels are not really that easy either... view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 30 April 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

Whether or not you agree with Richard Dawkins is pretty irrelevant to this discussion, because his arguments are just as valid as are yours.


This appears to be a misunderstanding of the term 'agree'. I was not stating an agreement based on personal preference or taste - in which case you would be right and what he says would be just as valid as what I say - what I mean with 'agree' or 'disagree' is that I have convinced myself that what he states is wrong and that I can give (and have given) the reasons for this, and in this case his arguments are certainly not as valid as mine. One of us is likely wrong, the other is right, and a look at the evidence is needed for making up your mind which. The scientific method is about sorting out wrong views based on evidence, not about some idea that everyones views are somehow equally valid.

In fact, I would suggest his arguments are more valid, because he actually has a large collection of work to his name.


So have I - I am a scientist myself. But that's beside the point, as truth is never established by counting the number of publications. What a strange criterion this should be.

If you wish to argue that my arguments are not valid, please go into the evidence of any particular argument, and I'll be happy to discuss on this basis. But 'he is right because he has written more books' is not a criterion I accept for further discussion.

You've read one book, and you think you have an argument against his. Please read more, and you'll understand his &quot;full version&quot; better. The God Delusion simply covers his anti-theism, and you miss out on all of his science.


I happen to be married to a Biologist, and naturally I have a few friends from study days in various fields of Biology and we do talk science, so I have no lack of insight into evolution, cell biology and genetics. Dawkins is not really special in the field, he's just popular outside biology. I read a great deal on consciousness, neurophysiology, evolutionary psychology and such things from other authors (and I try not to go for the popular science books but rather have a look into the research papers if I can - in fact, you will find that I mention raw data on evolutionary psychology in my essay). So I don't quite see how I would miss out on any science.

Oh, and there can be no such thing as 'his science' - science should certainly be independent from the person who does it. So I should not have to read Dawkins in order to understand Darwinian evolution or any other aspect of Biology - any other author should do.

But let me be more precise - I disagree with Dawkins as far as his statements in 'The God Delusion' are concerned on all trivial counts, but I disagree with him on all non-trivial things. (I thought that much would be apparent from the context, but hey...). It so happens that I disagree with his main argument presented in 'The Selfish Gene', and I can elaborate my reasons for that, but that's beside the point here.

I understand perfectly well where Dawkins comes from, namely science, because I come from the same corner, I work in science, I apply the same techniques and the same type of reasoning as Dawkins does - and that's precisely where my criticism of 'The God Delusion' comes from: He pushes reasoning into regions where it is known not to work, he uses biased criteria to look at evidence and he puts conjecture in the place of fact - so he gets the result he wants to get rather than what is true. I don't claim to know what is true, but I do recognize flaws in science and reasoning when I see them. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 18 May 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

I have written a lengthy essay on the issue where I pretty much quote what Dawkins states where before discussing it. It is linked in the thread. Please just read it instead of asking me to type it here again. It is quite irrelevant what you remember Dawkins saying when we can just read it up in his book. view post


The metaphysics of Eärwa (contd.) posted 10 June 2009 in The Judging EyeThe metaphysics of Eärwa (contd.) by Thorsten, Candidate

Abbreviations used

RSB: R. Scott Bakker
DB: The Darkness that Comes Before
WP: The Warrior Prophet
TT: The Thousandfold Thought
JE: The Judging Eye

Introduction

Here I continue my thoughts about the metaphysics of Eärwa as outlined in [url=http&#58;//www&#46;forum&#46;three-seas&#46;com/viewtopic&#46;php?f=17&amp;t=39359:ebuypqm4]The metaphysics of Eärwa - some thoughts[/url:ebuypqm4] with the new information we have gained in JE.

All in all, JE resembles much more 'conventional fantasy' than the first trilogy ever did. The main interesting tension in DB, WP and TT was between the contrasting worldviews of Logos and Mythos, causality (the past state of the world determining the future) vs. teleology (the world developing towards some purpose), the question which of them is 'true' and all its philosophical implications. This is almost completely absent in JE - the story is never seen with the eyes of Kellhus, and consequently the causal point of view is missing. Reading JE without knowing the previous trilogy, one would in essence conclude that the 'true' view of the world is given in terms of really existing gods and prophets and that there is hell and damnation is an objective, unquestionable fact.

Needless to say, for that reason I did not enjoy JE nearly as much as the previous books. In JE, it is hinted that Kellhus is indeed a fraud, a man clever enough to pose as a prophet, but ignorant of the true state of affairs. Indeed, in the summary of the previous books, it is explicitly stated that Kellhus did 'go mad'. And if the end should be that RSB discards the causal worldview, in essence telling the reader 'it's only Kellhus who told you - you know you can't trust him' then everything special about Eärwa will be gone (and it would be close to cheating - there has been good evidence that Kellhus is indeed a prophet).

But let us not jump to premature conclusions, go slowly through the material and try to reconcile it with what was found in the first trilogy.

The gods and the God

We have not seem much in terms of direct divine intervention in DB, WP or TT, in spite of a highly religious context (you'd think the gods take an interest in holy wars...), so we had to deduce their existence from indirect clues. This has drastically changed in JE: We see Yatwer directly taking the Oracle Vethenestra in Ch. 5, and Yatwer's power is implied to be behind the aging of the White-Luck warrior and the becoming younger of Psatma Nannaferi described in Ch. 9 and similarly her blessing is implied to give Sorweel the power to deceive the Aspect-Emperor in Ch. 15. Barring the possibility that Kellhus actually knows that Sorweel is lying, but (for whatever purpose we don't yet see) allows him to think he is deceiving him, the latter is no insignificant observation: It shows that the gods are in a sense able to defeat the power of the Logos (and therefore in a sense beat causality?).

What, then, is the relation between the gods (as exemplified by Yatwer in JE) and the God as it appeared in the previous trilogy? My impression is that the explanation given by Maithanet to Esmenet in Ch.5 is essentially correct. Previously I argued that the God corresponds to an emergent super-consciousness, resulting from the interaction between human consciousness, belief, perception and reality. But the human mind is a multi-layered thing, not a homogeneous structure. In the [url=http&#58;//webspace&#46;ship&#46;edu/cgboer/jung&#46;html:ebuypqm4]Jungian model[/url:ebuypqm4] of the psyche, complexes appear as functional units of the mind just the same way as organs appear as functional units of the body, and these appear on the deeper level of the collective unconscious as archetypes. A mind layered this way would not only give rise to a super-consciousness, the God, but also to 'super-complexes' - the gods.

Yatwer in particular would seem to correspond to a deeply unconscious and intuitive mind structure - consider all references to earth and darkness. No wonder she opposes Kellhus, who personifies the 'light' of reason! And since everyone has probably made the experience that the mind is not always decided, but that there is for example a tension between 'head' and 'heart', it should not come as a surprise that in spite of being part of a whole, the gods neither act in harmony, nor act necessarily for the good of the whole. Assuming of course Kellhus represents the whole, i.e. the God.


The Judging Eye

The strongest evidence that Kellhus does in fact not represent the God is given by what Mimara's Judging Eye sees in Achamian. Supposedly the Judging Eye should show an objective moral judgement (we have at present no way of really knowing if that is the case, but I'm willing to accept the idea for the moment). Since Kellhus claimed he can rewrite the holy texts and in doing so save the sorcerers from damnation, but Mimara continues do see the damnation of sorcerers, it would follow that Kellhus' claim is wrong. And if Kellhus' claims to spiritual matters are wrong, he cannot be a prophet or represent the God. This would make him appear as someone who poses as a prophet to make use of the belief of others for his own ends - just what he started out to do back in DB.

The truly interesting question is - what does Mimara see when she looks at Kellhus with the Judging Eye? If he is a prophet who just happens to be using the Gnosis, then he may not be damned, but if he is a sorcerer who would like to appear as a prophet, then the Judging Eye would show him as damned just like other sorcerers. Unfortunately, we don't know (although it's a bit of a stretch that Mimara who spent time close to Kellhus wouldn't know and Achamian wouldn't ask her).

In the terminology developed before, what actually is the Judging Eye? It would be something like the ability to see the world while tapping the super-consciousness that is the God, i.e. to see more than one's own judgement, but rather a collective judgement.

Topoi and the nature of Hell

In order to understand better what is later revealed about the Chorae, let us now turn the attention to the nature of the Topoi. Among of the most dense scenes of the book is certainly the passage through the haunted halls of Cil-Aujas, and it is made clear that traversing Cil-Aujas is literally a journey through hell. Cil-Aujas is mentioned to be a Topos just like the Field of Mengedda.

What is the nature of a Topos (or Hell) in Eärwa? It seems to be a place where nightmares literally come true, where fear of some terror is very justified as this terror is about to be realized. An example is the eye found by Achamian in the heart of the abandoned warrior, which is precisely his fear come true (Ch. 14). Again we find here the theme of the close relationship between reality and observation which influence each other.

It is striking that Topoi apparently arise in places where a large number of human beings suffers. We may thus understand the nature of a Topos as follows: While normal reality is shaped by normal consciousness, and in turn influences consciousness and from that processes the God emerges as a super-consciousness, a Topos is shaped by a nightmare, suffering and fear. Normally terror or suffering are individual (and can't affect reality much), or become bearable through the thought that they are not the normal state of affairs, that they will pass and normal consciousness will be experienced again after. Topoi would represent places in which this hope is abandoned and terror is accepted as the normal experience. Then a vicious cycle starts: The more terrifying the situation is, the more terrifying it is perceived, but as perception shapes reality, the Topos actually becomes even more terrifying, the fear is perfectly justified - and so a place turns into Hell.

This means that Topoi arise from minds which do no longer show the central organizing principle, the 'self' in Jungian terms, which would give rise to the God otherwise. As a result, Topoi lack cohesion - they are, as the Outside, more susceptible to desire (or fear) and of diminished objectivity. In this sense, they are places where the Outside leaks into the world.

The Chorae

Previously I argued that Chorea 'force true reality to be in its 'proper place', i.e. to equal perceived reality [i.e. the God]' and that they can therefore be used to 'anchor' something in reality (in fact, I argued that this is their function for the No-God). This idea is confirmed rather nicely in JE.

At the beginning of the key scene in Ch. 16 Mimara observes how reality seems to move whereas the Chorae remains steady: 'a sense that it is not theTrinket that moves so much as it is the whole of creation about it'. Later she uses the Judging Eye to see 'through' the Chorae, and she finds a light, a 'point of luminous white certainty' which she sees as a Tear of God. That is precisely what one would expect to happen in my theory of Chorae. The Judging Eye shows the objective moral judgement of something. The God is emergent from reality perceiving itself in the minds of people. The Chorae forces true reality to be perceived reality, i.e. it shapes the reality of the God out of chaos - of course that act is identical to the nature of the God, and that is what the Judging Eye perceives. This, in fact, is my main argument why the explanation of what the Judging Eye is is correct - it agrees with everything we can deduce about Chorae.

Achamian is astonished at what Mimara does with the Chorae - he is of the opinion that Hell should have swallowed them whole, Chorae or not. But I don't think that could happen - a Topos, the Outside, should be no more able to swallow a Chorae as a sorcerer should be able to use it. Thus, my conclusion is that Achamian is in error here. After all - how could he know?


The Prophet of the Past

There is an interesting analogy I would like draw attention to, although I don't know what it means yet. Achamian is called a 'prophet of the past' in JE. Interestingly enough, the things that play out closely resemble what happens to Kellus in WP. Kellhus' prophecy to Saubon 'March... The Whore will be kind to you... You must make certain the Shrial knights are punished' (WP, Ch. 4) was at this point almost certainly not anything that Kellhus believed himself. Nevertheless, it came to pass later.

The same is true for Achamian's mission. Initially he lies about his intention to get to Sauglish and find the coffers - he just picks Sauglish as a destination which may lure men to accompany him. However, later he learnes that Sauglish is exactly where he has to go - the events evolve in such a way as to make his lie truth in the end. So, in the same sense in which Kellhus was a true prophet, Achamian must be as well. It is certainly intriguing to observe the change in his dreams, but I don't think we have enough clues yet in order to understand what precisely his role is.

Spiritual warfare

What then is overall going on in JE? Is Kellhus a prophet or not - does he represent the God or not? I think it is still possible to arrange all bits of information into a coherent picture - but it also may be that RSB tinkered with the metaphysics between trilogies or deceived us.

The idea which can reconcile everything is a kind of spiritual warfare, a contest who gets to establish the truth of matters. It appears that initially Kellhus as the Warrior Prophet had more support among the people than at the beginning of JE - Psatma Nannaferi in Ch.5 for example mentiones that initially the followers of Yatwer rejoiced, but they do not so any more: 'It was a joyous time, a time of celebration (...) At that time, we celebrated the Shriah and his Holy War, thinking only of what we might regain. We did not see the Demon that slumbered in its belly, that would possess it, transform it into an instrument of oppression and blasphemous tyranny. We did not see the Aspect-Emperor.' That in turn means that Kellhus power to determine what is true and what is not is contested on several fronts - and as a result, he is no longer truly prophet.

In other words, Kellhus is faced with a number of problems which exceed his capacity to deal with adequately. His surviving offspring is a rather sociopathic crowd not likely to inspire any notion of blessing by the God, his continuous wars are demanding for the economy, and while he can attend to problems in person adequately, his empire is just too large to do so.

At the moment, it is my impression that this is behind the damnation of sorcerers Mimara continues to see - Kellhus has ceased to be the only measure of truth. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 07 July 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

I'm rather skeptical that the question requires lengthy essays to answer it.


What question?

What Dawkins thinks or says is true? - That requires to read his book.
If Dawkins' arguments are sound? - That requires a lengthy essay unless you consider his arguments a priori valid or invalid, otherwise you'll not be spared the trouble of investigating them.
If there is free will or a soul? - That requires more than a lengthy essay - philosophers have been working a while on that one. view post


Incariol, what does it mean? posted 03 August 2009 in The Judging EyeIncariol, what does it mean? by Thorsten, Candidate

Interesting question... Since I have a great interest in linguistics, let me drop a few comments:

I've been trying to figure out what this name means by looking at other Nonmen names for things at the back of TTT. The only places where the names are somewhat similar are under Ishterebinth (Exalted Stronghold) where it says it was also called Ishoriol (Exalted Hall). My guess is that -iol means hall (or perhaps riol does) because the translation exalted is shared by them as well as Ishual( meaning Exalted Grotto) but they only match on the -ish prefix.


Yes, they all seem to match with ish- '*exalted'. But when you drop this phoneme, what is left is #terebinth '*stronghold', #ual '*grotto' and #oriol '*hall' - why should this shorten to ?riol/iol, except that you need it to fit? <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) -->

The other parts are -In and -car


We don't know that - we have no clue where the boundaries are, you cold have Inca-riol where #inca is related with incu from the ark for example, you could have In-cari-ol and so on - one would need to get a bit more into the structure of the language.


which are found under Incu-Holoinas( Ark-of-the-skies) and Inchoroi (People of emptiness) guessing that -in means of.


Almost certainly in does not mean 'of' - you assume that there needs to be a translation of 'of' because the structure is like in English, but it could be an inflecting language, e.g. *inca '*sky' #incu '*of [the] sky', or it could be literally a loose compound 'sky-ark'. Nonmen expressions never stuck me as using prepositions - they tend to be short in every language because they appear so often, whereas languages which employ typically long words and names tend to be case languages.

The only thing that had -car in it was Cara-Sincurimoi (Angel of Endless Hunger) what the Nonmen called the No-God. Just going by the way it looks, I'm guessing Cara means Angel and Sincurimoi means endless hunger. Although there is an -in there which may be the of part.


Unlikely - consider that incu seems to be the sky part, because a) it seems to share a root with incho- from the Inchoroi and 'emptiness, sky, space' are not unrelated, so if the first element of one compound translates the second of the English one, why should the word order in this compound be different and b) -moi actually is seen to act as a personal ending, cf. Cu'jara Cinmoi, so Sincurimoi is more likely to be a person/ a sort of agent, i.e. rather the 'angel' than the 'hunger'.

As I said, it's a neat problem, and one would have to look a bit more into the language structure to figure something out. I'll have a look <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D --> view post


Incariol, what does it mean? posted 13 August 2009 in The Judging EyeIncariol, what does it mean? by Thorsten, Candidate

There is not as much material on Ihrimsû as one would have liked, but at least a few conclusions can be drawn, and a few speculations can be formulated.

1) It seems that the structure of Ihrimsû is such that the qualifier consistently precedes the qualified. For this, the following evidence is available:

a) In Ishüal 'Exalted Grotto' (TT:556), Ishterebinth 'Exalted Stronghold' (TT:556), Ishoriöl 'Exalted Hall' (TT:556) and Ishroi 'exalted ones' (TT:555) the element ish- must mean 'exalted' and always comes in front. From the last word, one can also infer #roi '[a] people'.

b) This appears also in Halaroi 'men' (TT:521), Inchoroi 'people of emptiness' (TT:522) and Cûnuroi 'nonmen' (TT:523). Inchoroi must thus literally be '[of]-emptiness-people'. This is in fact confirmed, because we get the etymology of the other two words in an older form of the language as ji cûnu roi 'the People of Dawn' (TT:581) and j'ala roi 'the People of Summer' (ibid). Here, j(i) is probably the article 'the', but just possibly an inflection marker, but cûnu must be '[of] dawn' and ala '[of] summer', so literally we have 'the [of]-dawn-people' and 'the [of]-summer-people.

c) In Incû-Holoinas 'Ark of the Skies' (TT:521), Holoinas must mean 'ark' because in TT:524 it is mentioned that Nonmen kept a watch on the Holoinas - it is unlikely that they kept looking at the sky all the time. So, literally this must mean 'of-the-skies-ark'.

d) auja-gilcûnni is more or less translates as 'ground tongue' in DB:588 - and from the context, the latter must mean 'tongue' - so again the qualifier auja 'base-, ground-' comes in front.

2) It would seem that Ihrimsû is a case language, although the inflection pattern is impossible to guess. This conclusion is mainly based on the name Sin'niroiha 'First among Peoples' (TT:522) in which the element roi identified as 'people' is found. The name may therefore be decomposed as #sin '*first' and #niroiha 'among peoples' . This is a plural form inflected for a partitive case, so either ni- is plural and -ha the partitive, or vice versa. From the comparison of 'Cûno-Inchoroi wars' with Cûnuroi as standalone form, I would tend to suspect that the ending -ha is the plural and ni- has the meaning 'among', but that's essentialy conjecture.

3) The change from j'ala roi to Halaroi clearly indicates that sound shifts occur in the language development - the same element may therefore appear in slightly different guise in different words.

Now to some more speculative ideas:

4) In comparing Isûphiryas 'great pit of years' (DB:584) , Min-Uroikas 'Pit of Obscenities' (TT:528) one can try to identify the element 'pit'. This must come last (see 1) above) - so it can only be (y)as (I think it's unlikely that Isûphiry is compatible with Ihrimsû phonology, therefore I tend to break the word as Isûphir 'great-of-years' and yas 'pit'. Min-Uroikas would then be derived from a former *Min-Uroikyas with a shift in phonology. #Min-Uroik(?) with possibly an omitted ending then must mean '[of] obscenities' - presumably it is a compound word '?obscene things' or so. The question remains, if there is a genitive qualifier and an adjective, which one would come first? I tend to think that the adjective would come first, because there is a tantalizing parallel between ish- 'exalted' and #is- '*great' and incû '[of] skies' and incho- '[of] emptiness' - it could be that an aspiration of an element changes its emphasis and shade of meaning slightly. Accoring to that idea, I'd break Isûphiryas as is- 'great' ûphir 'of years' yas 'pit'. This actually goes nicely with #Aujas from the name Cil-Aujas - this is evidently related to auja 'ground', so I'd suspect the development *Aujayas &gt; Aujas 'ground-pit'.

If all that is not too far off the track, I'd put my money in for Incariol as being composed from Inca-oriol 'hall of the sky'.

Anyway - I found the following Nonman words, phrases and names which offer useful information:

auja-gilcûnni 'ground-tongue' (DB:588)
Anyasiri 'tongueless howlers' (TT:494)
Aghurzoi 'Cut Tongue' (TT:486)
Cincûl'hisa 'gasp of many reeds' (DB:589)
Isûphriyas 'great pit of years' (DB:584)
Cara-Sincurimoi 'Angel of Endless Hunger' (TT:509)
elju 'book' (TT:534)
Incû-Holoinas 'Ark of the Skies' (TT:521)
Halroi 'Men' (TT:521)
Inchoroi 'People of Emptiness' (TT:522)
Ishroi 'Exalted Ones' (TT:555)
Sin'niroiha 'First among Peoples' (TT:522)
Cûnuroi 'Nonmen' (TT:523)
Siörgil 'Shining Death' (TT:524)
Inniür-Shigogli 'Black Furnace Plain' (TT:526)
Ciögli '?Mountain' (TT:527)
Min-Uroikas 'Pit of Obscenities' (TT:528)
Ishterebinth 'Exalted Stronghold' (TT:556)
Ishüal 'Exalted Grotto' (TT:556)
Ishoriöl 'Exalted Hall' (TT:556)
Nasamorgas 'Death of Birth' (TT:582)

There are significantly more names, but for the most part they remain untranslated.

Finally there are the two phrases spoken in the first encounter of Kellhus with a Nonman:

Kaz'inirishka dazu daka gurankas (DB:26)
ka'cûnuroi souk ki'elju, souk hus'jihla (DB:28)

If anyone comes across other translated bits, please let me know! view post


Incariol, what does it mean? posted 03 September 2009 in The Judging EyeIncariol, what does it mean? by Thorsten, Candidate

@Rhadamanth:

So if Incariol is from ' hall of the sky ', are there any references to where Mekeritrig (who seems likely to be Incariol, IMHO) is from? Do you the the ' hall of the sky ' is in any way a reference to the ' ark of the sky ' ?


The translated Ihrimsû names are descriptions of the main theme of the life of the person they refer to. Clearly a name like Sin'niroiha 'First among Peoples' (TT:522) cannot be a birth name, so there must be a costom to adopt names later, perhaps a bit similar to pharaonic Egypt. I don't think that there is any reference to an origin in the name.

On a similar note, does anyone else think Kellhus may have translated Auja-Gilcunni (the lost ground tongue of the nonmen)?


I do not think there is any reason to assume that.

@ nonman_erratic:

I follow your logic though am not sure on the &quot;Inc- / Incu-&quot; component. How do you reconcile Inchoroi with Incu-Holoinas? Or do you think the addition of the -h vs the -u to 'Inc' changes the meaning drastically?


I think that aspiration of a consonant might correspond to a more abstract meaning of an element, so is 'great' ish 'exalted' and inc 'sky' inch 'empty'. Admittedly that is a wild stab in the dark, but it does not influence my conclusions on the etymology of Incariol since incu is an attested an translated element, so we know that it exists and do not have to use theories to deduce it.

From there I postulated that Incariol equated to something along the lines of &quot;Empty Hall/Stronghold&quot;... Which I stretched to &quot;Soul-less One&quot;...


To be blunt, that may be guided by your idea of what Incariol is like (and presumably only works with an adopted name by the way), but it is not supported by the linguistic side, inc- does not mean 'empty', inch(o) does.

Personally, I'm not interested in stretching translations - it reveals a lot about your expectations for the character, but not necessarily about what Bakker meant him to be like, or how he chose the name. Thus, I'll leave this field of investigation to someone else <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D -->

@Rhadamanth:

Does Achamian speak Ihrimsu?


No, it is explained clearly that he does not and that sorcery uses a different stage of the language.

@Supersword:

First off, in figuring out the syllables between Nonman words, so far as I can tell is that the only difference between Nonman speech patterns and Human speech patterns would be caused by the fused teeth of the former. Otherwise, they still speak via sound vibrations, which leads me to believe that their syllables would constitute much the same length and shape as Humans'. Therefore, it is my belief that the original thought on in-ca-riol or inc-a-riol present more accurate samples.


In analyzing compounds, the syllable structure is not relevant - you want to track the units that carry meaning. 'motorway' is decomposed in three syllables as 'mo-tor-way', but if you ask for meaning, you find the two elements 'motor' and 'way'. An element of many syllables may nevertheless carry only a single meaning. In studying real-world languages, you find rather extreme examples. So you are arguing more or less based on your taste how you think it should be (which is okay in a sense), but it has not really much to do with the sound producing apparatus.

@ Jerako:

Scott is obviously a student of archaic languages, I wouldn't be surprised if Ihrimsu has much grammar that has been influenced by early Indo-European languages, such as Latin or Ancient Greek.


While much of the nomenclature of sorcery is blatantly based on Ancient Greek (as I outlined elsewhere), I cannot see that Ihrimsû would be. If there are any connections beyond chance similarity, they continue to escape me. I also think that such speculations are a bit premature - one would have to know more of the inflection pattern to see if there is a similar language elsewhere. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 30 September 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

A while ago Tilberian wrote:

Look up a picture of a CAT scan. Your search is over: that is consciousness.


Just to illustrate why I am and continue to be skeptical about looking for fundamental answers in brain scans: [url=http&#58;//prefrontal&#46;org/files/posters/Bennett-Salmon-2009&#46;pdf:10a9r3g6]A dead salmon demonstrates emotional response in brain scans[/url:10a9r3g6] (the link is to a conference poster). view post


I am a devout follower of Kellhus posted 17 November 2009 in The Judging EyeI am a devout follower of Kellhus by Thorsten, Candidate

Well, has anyone thought about this in detail? What does he do things for? What motivates him to do whatever he does? What sense of accomplishment could he possibly feel for getting anything right? The logos is and remains a deterministic paradigm - Kellhus has no more freedom inside his framework than those he manipulates, because there is always a logical choice what to do next, and he is always committed to follow that choice. He doesn't have the freedom to say 'I do this, knowing it's stupid, but it feels right anyway.' His followers at least feel good following his manipulation - but what does he feel? He just schemes and does - he is no more than a deterministic computing engine predicting responses and probable events and following a path of maximized effect. view post


I am a devout follower of Kellhus posted 09 December 2009 in The Judging EyeI am a devout follower of Kellhus by Thorsten, Candidate

Keep in mind that Kellhus has no interest in feeling at all. He cares not for feeling good about anything, he is simply trying to maximize his efficiency like you said, but by doing so he is simply trying to further attain the Absolute.


Well, it seems to me like this: Kellhus has goals. Efficiency is no end in itself, it is a concept which is only definable with respect to a goal. He doesn't seem to optimize his genetic reproduction (he isn't overly concerned about his children, and he probably could have more), he isn't optimizing his survival probability (as Aspect-Emperor, he is far too exposed for that), and he doesn't seem to engage in research in order to maximize his understanding of the universe. But it's somewhat unclear what he gets from following his goals and progressing along the path - he lacks the emotional setup to feel satisfaction. He seems like my computer - readily happy to do stupid calculations for hours because that is his nature.

Attainment of the absolute as a goal begs the question how this should be conceptually possible within the causal framework of the logos. RSB is, in his description of the Dunyain philosophy, deliberately vague on this point. The thing is - if there is a causal chain of events, you need to get out of it to be absolute - but from within causality you just can't.

Much of Kellhus is a philosophical excurse on the relation between free will and causality - the concept in things originating from within themselves without cause vs. the concept of everything being caused by what is before. In absolute causality, things would be absolutely predictable, but there would be no free will left to have any use for such predictions - in essence with absolute foreknowledge of events the future collapses and becomes the present - all that is left is to act it out. But absolute causality leads to internal contradictions. Physics is sort of absolutely causal - but not in concepts we would recognize, just in terms of wave functions and field evolutions. Physics in terms of our experience is not causal, for example radioactive decays are not caused by anything.

To cut it short - I think it is pretty easy to trash the absolutely causal paradigm of the logos or of Dunyain philosophy - and things like intuition and emotions in a sense are a meaningful fix to the shortcomings of rationality and causal reasoning. I don't see Kellhus anywhere on the path of attaining the absolute - he's probably much farther from it than the rest of us, because he is more tied to the chains of absolute causality and in all likelihood has more difficulties breaking free of it than anyone else. view post


I am a devout follower of Kellhus posted 16 December 2009 in The Judging EyeI am a devout follower of Kellhus by Thorsten, Candidate

And in terms of free will the question I raise is 'Free of what?'. If your causally linked to things you care about - do you want to be free of things you care about? I address this more on my blog: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://philosophergamer.blogspot.com/20">http://philosophergamer.blogspot.com/20</a><!-- m --> ... rther.html


Well, this goes to the heart of the free will issue - what does it actually mean to exercise free will? Can you (or anyone) think of an experiment (even a thought experiment) that could in principle prove the existence of free will in contrast to determinism? I've been trying to come up with something for years, and I think it's just not possible.

Free will is not just the opposite of causality (that's randomness in a sense, completely random events appear uncaused by external factors and hence are unpredictable) - it's something different, something rather complicatedly different. Language knows that - we call a strong-willed person also a determined person. We would not call a person who throws dice for decisionmaking free-willed.

The keyword would be something like self-determination - but what does that mean? Obviously, you are determined by what you want because if it were different, you wouldn't want it. Of course, the neuroscientists go on claiming that self is an illusion (which does not prevent them from feeling pissed when their papers are rejected - that seems real enough for them). But as I wrote elsewhere, there is a blatant contradiction that if there is no self, the whole scientific method which is validated by the experience of the self, the conscious observer, is as illusionary as the self, and so it can't be used to disprove any self. view post


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