Monday, March 7, 2011

Allowing for Presentiment, a Sketchy Sketch

You will likely not know about this, but there is an interesting polemic brewing about what would constitute adequate proof that presentiment, or awareness conditioned by events which haven't happened yet, is possible. Well, if you've been reading what I write, then you will know all about it, but that doesn't change the odds much, since reading me now demonstrates more likelihood that you've never read me before. (I have statistical proof of that if you're interested),

Meanwhile, consider this: Much if not most of what constitutes the readiness of a mind to consider a thought complete enough for utterance actually exists beyond what are ordinarily considered to be the boundaries of the mind. I should say "persists" as in things outside of us stay relatively put, and so we hardly have to keep checking in on them.

Living things move around more than inert objects, and virtual reality is less reliable than the real kind. There's no need, in other words, to stow whole chunks of reality "in" the mind since we can easily assess that it's likely still to be there when next we check. Words we utter simply require a stable reference and must draw attention reliably.

Inanimate objects moving without agency generally would give us the creeps. Most of us will want lots of testing before we're willing to cop out and call it ghosts. A similar thing is true about presentiment. Even if we just think we sense it, it's creepy.

We can pretty much assume that when someone turns their head as though in knowledge of our gazing at the back of it - they seem to have some kind of sensation that we were looking at them - it's because of occult features - simply unknown features - of the environment which indicate how something changed by the fact of our looking.

Maybe it's what's happening in other peoples' eyes, or maybe it's a kind of complex reflection or refraction beneath our conscious ability to make note. Perceptual trajectories bending by the gravity of our attention.

Maybe it's something in the shared surroundings which made us look at that person in the first place, and they simply sense that they are at its epicenter. Who's to say that we are the deciders in any particular instance, as opposed to responding to things happening around us that we haven't learned, consciously, to accommodate.

If there is a shifty portion of the world around you, it will change the valence for holding a thought inside, and for tagging it mentally as not ready to be part of any utterance. The more abstract they become, the more we might struggle to grasp the usage of words. Some instruments require much more practice before they're mastered.

Things about us which don't cohere may escape words altogether. We might be left with Wow! or Yikes! Sometimes intentional action is like taking steps into some empty seeming space which you can't resolve enough by your senses to be confident that the ground will be there. Even when it's always been there before.

But if something forces the issue, like say a fire at your back, you may leap as the better option against what you know with certainty.

After whatever was going to happen has happened, if it was a life-or-death matter, you'll clearly be confirmed in the correctness of your decision. The alternative is, in a trivial but silly sense, unthinkable. In a small way, of course, the ability to toss the dice well has to be considered a part of our strategy, individually and collectively, to come as far as we have.

But that's not what survival of the fittest means. It's our genes whose fitness is being determined, and we only count to the extent that our continued stability enhances the overall likelihood of our distributed gene-pool to persist. And even then our clan's persistence might be contrary to the interests of the greater good.

Surely our selfish happiness functions in relation to our retroactively confirmed presentiments about which would be the best course. Happiness wouldn't even be possible without a relatively fixed cosmos of possibility; suffering would never be worthwhile without the prospect to alter certain of those aspects which would make our happiness seem impossible.

Things outside our minds which matter to us are said to be held "in mind." When they change our mind changes. And when we know they will change, though they have yet to change, we might still change our mind before they do. In that case, our mind has been changed as much as we have changed it ourselves, and yet the change which caused it has yet to happen. This is only presentiment when the assurance can't be described or prefigured or calculated.

Now must it be that there is a known causal relation between our assessments of future change, and what eventually does happen? What about when a change to a third thing changes the relation between two things already held in mind without awareness of the third? New knowledge, in other words, might change the relation of the two already held in mind without anything needing to happen, eventually or right now, to the two not touched by the third.

Our actions can cause the changes we anticipate as much as they might respond to them ahead of time. And if this change occurs in mind prior to our conscious awareness of it, that would feel a lot like presentiment, right? Once caught in the act, we'd be likely to rationalize as though there were no choice.

Now proof is offered that things are still more mysterious. I'm liking it, but I find myself at a loss for words. Yes, the structure of the cosmos admits of mind apart from matter. It changes nothing except at the fringe where will and helplessness collide. At such moments consciousness arises.

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