I define a model to be a simulation of external reality within a mind. It is an approximation, a system by which we can make some predictions that are somewhat accurate most of the time. Some confuse their models with reality itself — since I use God to inform my morality, there must truly be a God; since quantum mechanics makes probabilistic predictions, the universe must be fundamentally non-deterministic. These kinds of judgments fail to realize that True external reality is not accessible to us.

I am speaking from the perspective of a model in which there exists a True reality for models to approximate. As I have defined, the reality being approximated is not accessible, so what could I be referring to by “True external reality?” I don’t refer to the True external reality, but an approximation within my model. And the same goes for my model itself — I cannot refer directly to my model, which is a pattern of True reality that occurs in my mind, but only to an approximation of my model from within itself.

This is the problem I have with metacognitition. I have spent a great deal of time introspecting, trying to figure out what I think, what I believe, why I do the things I do. But I cannot access the True answers to those questions (are questions a part of True reality?), I can only answer them from the perspective of my model of myself. A little less than a year ago, a Bodhisattva Sirened me in to catalyze an understanding that my self-model is unsound, that I had ideas about myself that were incorrect, that I had memories which may not have actually occurred, that I had a fabrication mechanism which was creating reasons for my actions after I had already done them, or already committed myself to doing them. I lost my trust in my metacognition, and from there,

What is True? We can be like Descartes and try to deduce a sound foundation from almost nothing, but that is just model-play, desperately trying to construct a model which is reality. This is in vain, there is no perfect representation. Every word in this post echoes falsity and lack; I can’t say “there is no perfect representation” with any certainty. Logical argument is a model, relying on the framework of propositional knowledge — humanity invented propositions — biology invented truth.

Of what I know or think I know or think I cannot know, I exist regardless. This proposition is provable and refutable, and the proof and refutation are both devoid of any True meaning. Can I think myself into oblivion? or is it just that my mental structures complicate themselves until my mental structures are really complicated? Experience, not thought, is the foundation. Thought is model, language is model, thought about experience is model — but experience: that is True.

I cannot say, recall, or think with certainty (certainty itself is a property of propositions). But I experience with certainty, if you will allow the metaphor. I am not trying to communicate a truth or a Truth — this is very important — but a feeling. Can you feel this intermittent feeling of mine, this freeing, relaxing, empty feeling which the conscious mind resists fervorously? It occurs discretely, not as a lasting experience, but like the sound of a clap the instant it reaches my ear; there is no meaning yet, that comes later. The only way I know I have this feeling is through my memory, and like every truth it is not to be trusted. I now have a feeling that if I could make a continuous clap, it would accompany a continuous darkness in my mind. You could hardly tell the difference in me, and I would be too occupied with noticing it that I would not be able to report or even remember doing so. Perhaps I achieve it for great lengths of time already —

Can you believe I strive for this?! I seek my own inability to remember — should I achieve my goal, I will be on my deathbed before it is tomorrow. Life could be lying in her bed preoccupied by the necessity to one day leave it — or it could be a dream and orgasm. One is a long life in which future disappointment is love; the other is a whole river, reaching the sea the same moment it melts from the snow.

Love do not care. The mind will tire of obsessing on the contents of the black hole, but the heart will still beat to a rhythm. This final sentence arouses its beating, because I know, in every model, that I have a True love —

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5 thoughts on “Music

  1. Seriousness in grappling with philosophical issues is I respect very highly. It seems very rare, especially in the world of programming. I’ve only vague illusions about what it might be like. But what I really wanted to say was: if you haven’t, as certainty is of the things that seem to preoccupy you, do read Descartes’ Discourse on Method. “If this discourse seems to long to be read at one sitting, it can be divided into six parts. …”. I’m not sure, but I think I heard when he wrote this, he was a soldier in the French army, for some reason by himself in a windmill in Holland, wrestling with the (to him) horrific idea that there was nothing about which he could be certain. With huge seriousness. Apart from anything else, it’s a very moving piece of writing. IMHO.

  2. (note: I use the words framework and model pretty much interchangeably in this response).

    You’re right that cognition cannot deliver insight into the ground of cognition. Meta-cognition is by definition travelling away from this ground.

    I appreciate your thoroughness in pointing out that your idea of “True external reality” is itself part of an ontological model and therefore not true in and of itself.

    I think that probably the tension you feel in considering models in this way arises from your desire to justify them. Once a human has attained enough perspective so as to be able to consider different mental frameworks, alter them, act on them, etc. a new burden arises – namely, which framework to choose? Should you find answers to your questions in religion? Science? Math? Even more daunting is the question of which questions are worthwhile to find answers for at all?

    The answer to this higher-order question of which frameworks to choose cannot come from within any particular framework. Even if you construct a framework of frameworks, you can immediate abstract this construction and think about a framework for framework frameworks, etc. This clearly goes nowhere.

    I think that the answer might be something as obvious as “love,” as you’ve noted. Accepting that you cannot justify your frameworks or your framework frameworks, but accepting that the struggle to do so itself is part of the act of maintaining and loving these frameworks.

    Another (perhaps the same) answer might be “transcendence,” if this makes any sense. All frameworks have a context, so a simple way of getting rid of (rather than solving) the framework problem is to realize this context-dependence, realize the transience of context, and thereby the transience of the problem. Frameworks are only valuable because they are good for something – but what could they possibly, ultimately, be good for?

    And after all, you’re just a bit of space dust.

    Anyway, I really liked this post. Seems similar to a lot of stuff I write (or used to write). Check out my blog, if you want. I think you’ll enjoy some of my essays.


  3. Sandy had no name. We will call this person Sandy for the convenience of the story.

    Sandy grew up on a large clump of dirt in the middle of the ocean. (OK, an “island”.) On this clump of dirt, there were many plants and small animals, but there was one particular plant which Sandy liked to eat the most. This plant grew a tall column of flowers which became fruits, each a bit smaller than a fist.

    The fastest way to open the fruit was by a specific sort of forceful rolling between two hands, which Sandy and others referred to as “frak”. Sandy did not really understand the mechanics of the frak, and if you asked about the exact motions of the hand which are involved, Sandy could not answer sensibly (except by demonstration). If a child was not shown how to do it, that child would usually start to eat the fruit by less efficient methods, perhaps ripping the skin off with teeth or fingernails. Yet, with some help and practice, every child learned to frak properly.


    My notion of “meaning” or “reference” does not find this troublesome. The word “frak” refers to a particular motion of the hands, even if I am not aware of quite what motion that should be.

    I know your post was not intended to be a logical argument, but, I reject this step in your reasoning:

    “As I have defined, the reality being approximated is not accessible, so what could I be referring to by “True external reality?” I don’t refer to the True external reality, but an approximation within my model.”

    I don’t think I have to fully grasp the truth in order to refer to it, any more than I have to touch a rock in order to point at it.

  4. Re abram:

    There is way too much hidden in your hypothetical example – e.g. how do the people of the island use the term frak? Do they just say “frak” when they do the thing? Is there a grammatical language involved? These details might seem incidental in a sense, but they hide the crucial fact that the most important fact about “frak” is how it is embedded in the culture of the island people.

    More importantly, do you think that “True external reality” is of the same order as “frak?”

    Please help me understand why you’ve selected this example by completing this analogy:

    Frak : hand motion :: “True external reality” : ???

    Here’s a better analogy.

    Sandy and co. use frak for a long time – for so long that it becomes a deeply ingrained part of their society. One day, far in the future, they want to figure out how to smash apart atoms. They describe this action as “frakking” the atom – when the atom is smashed a “frak” occurs.

    Let’s fast-forward another hundred years or so. Now, some clever philosopher comes along and says “where is this ‘frak’ located? It doesn’t exist anywhere in reality!”

    Luke’s point is that in asserting that the ‘frak’ doesn’t exist anywhere in reality, the clever philosopher is himself making the error of thinking that anything can exist anywhere in reality, in some deep way. (in this case, Luke is playing the part of the clever, but very self-aware, philosopher).

    (one of) The problem(s) with your analogy is that it is deceptively simple. A reference to something like a “frak” isn’t really on the same level as a reference to something like “True external reality.”

    It is strange to me that you would say:

    “I know your post was not intended to be a logical argument, but, I reject this step in your reasoning:”

    If you know the post wasn’t a logical argument then why do you reject a step in the reasoning? What? Luke’s post strikes me as a kind of signpost, rather than an argument – as in “If you get it, then here we are! If you don’t, then think harder and maybe you can get to where I am!” It’s like religious symbolism – arguing with it is completely incoherent at the get-go.

  5. “Luke’s post strikes me as a kind of signpost, rather than an argument – as in “If you get it, then here we are! If you don’t, then think harder and maybe you can get to where I am!” It’s like religious symbolism – arguing with it is completely incoherent at the get-go.”

    Yep, that’s why I initially replied with a story (which I admit there is “too much hidden in” as you say). I though of leaving it at that, but, it would have been too cryptic.

    So, I’m just trying to indicate my response to this “signpost”.

    “Frak : hand motion :: “True external reality” : ???”

    OK, fair enough:

    “Frak” : hand motion :: the phrase “True external reality” : true external reality

    IE, the relation being identified in the analogy is that which exists between the sound “idaho” and idaho, etc. This isn’t a very exciting relationship, perhaps, but then, it’s not meant to be.

    Actually, Idaho is a good example of a very artificial boundary– illustrating your point “where does Idaho exist in reality?”. A simple answer is “between Montana and Oregon”, of course.

    I’m not trying to be obnoxious here, but I suppose I am. Sorry!

    I do admit that there is some discontinuity when we try to apply this analogy to “true external reality” in the same way we would apply it to common nouns like “table”. I just… don’t feel inclined to say that we can’t refer to the true external reality just because “true external reality” is a part of an ontology in our head.

    “The grand canyon” is part of an ontology in our heads, but the grand canyon is a big hole in the ground (not in our heads). It might be that we are wrong about the grand canyon (I’ve never been there, myself– perhaps it’s fictitious!); in which case “the grand canyon” is part of our ontology, but the grand canyon doesn’t exist (or exists in a very different form from what we think, which throws our ability to refer to it into doubt). Similarly for the external reality. I might be wrong about it, sure, but barring that, it seems like I can refer to it just fine!

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