RE: MF Discussion Topic for December 2003

From: Paul Turner (
Date: Sun Dec 14 2003 - 12:47:14 GMT

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MF Discussion Topic for December 2003"

    Hello everyone

    Bo said:
    We seem unable to snap out of this mind/matterish frame of mind
    reflected by these analogies, that Q-intellect's problems are to be
    likened with "thinking unable to define thinking" and/or "the eye unable
    to see itself" ...etc. We are "...still somists after all these years."
    to say it with Paul (Simon).

    The root of the problem lies in the fact that few people recognize the
    fact that intellect is supposed to be a static level, but rather regard
    it as in the fashion shown above: Abstraction per se.

    Paul the poor somist:
    Feel free to demonstrate why conceptual abstraction is not static

    Bo said:
    Some (Scott Roberts mostly) has shown that this leads to everything
    being intellect (a definition wielded by Jonathan and many more, but not
    from Scott's premises) who I most intensely would have liked to join in
    a thrust for a more "quality-like" intellect, but he has
    left the MOQ ....for this very reason!!!!'s frustrating.

    The *definition* of everything is intellectual, but intellect is not
    defining fresh air (except when it is :-)). Intellect defines
    experience, and experience=Quality. When Quality latches as static
    intellectual patterns, it latches symbols and structures of symbols.

    Bo said:
    What we mean by all these SOM's S-derivative: mind, consciousness,
    awareness, thinking ...etc. are of course the VALUE-PERCEPTION
    connected with intellect. But there are similar pre-static perceptions
    at all other levels. At intellect it leads to the subject/object value,
    but there is the ineradicable notion that this part of the ZMM describes
    another intellectual pattern being born, while it is MOQ taking leave of

    You have yet to provide an answer to my question in the MD about the
    consequences of "the MOQ taking leave of intellect" but continue to use
    this idea to argue against Pirsig's definition of intellect as if it
    offers any "solution" to the great "problem" you have.

    Amilcar said:
    I tend to think that defining the intellect as 'symbol manipulation' may
    be a bit pregnant for debate (as we see from this topic). First of all,
    a debate could be held over whether language (symbol manipulation) is
    primarily a function of cognition (organizing one's own thoughts and
    therefore individual) or communication (conveying thoughts and therefore
    social). Adding dimension to this debate comes the question of whether
    'symbol manipulation' refers only to abstract symbols & codes such as
    words, numbers and musical notes or does it include concrete symbols as
    in internal representations of things such as faces, our bathroom
    cupboards and where we left our keys. So from the start we have two axes
    of discussion and clarification: a. cognition vs. communication & b.
    abstract symbols and/or concrete symbols.

    Thank you for bringing this up, it is refreshing to hear from someone
    willing to explore intellect as symbol manipulation rather than try to
    dismiss it. However, I am only exploring at the moment so please bear
    with my speculations and imprecision.

    I've been looking at the different ways "symbol manipulation" has been
    used to describe thinking and you have raised one of the subtleties in
    the usage of "symbol." It can be used in a general way - "something that
    stands for something else" - or it can be further analysed into

    A] something that stands for something else by resemblance i.e. an
    analog, e.g. mental image, pattern recognition, pictures

    B] something that stands for something else by convention i.e. an
    arbitrary sign, e.g. a written word

    (In some disciplines, "symbol" is only used to refer to [B])

    If we think of symbols created as a result of sensory perception, then
    whilst we can speculate that all organisms of a certain complexity may
    form "symbols" of experience by analog, a mechanism beyond biology is
    required to form symbols by convention i.e. social patterns. Once a set
    of arbitrary but conventional signs has provided a foundation then
    symbol manipulation can begin within a set of rules created to
    manipulate any combination of arbitrary signs into patterns of varying
    intellectual quality. So we may say that social patterns are necessary
    to bridge the gap between creating and using symbols by resemblance and
    symbols by convention but intellectual patterns are formed when the
    symbols by convention are manipulated with no social purpose and within
    an independent set of "intellectual" rules.

    From an evolutionary point of view, we can speculate that language
    evolved socially with a purpose of communication which led to the
    creation of symbols by convention and intellect used this system for a
    new purpose and evolved new symbolic languages such as mathematics. It
    may be worth noting that not all words are symbolic, that is, they do
    not "stand for something else." E.g. I don't think the spoken word
    "hello" stands for anything else, it is a social custom with no
    intellectual purpose but has meaning by convention.

    Amilcar said:
    I'm inclined to assert that the ability to objectify, question and set
    goals and values is the defining characteristic of the
    'intellect'/'individual,' and is sheathed in the clothing of (or the
    guiding force behind) 'skilled symbol manipulation'.

    I agree that symbol manipulation is guided and this is what I think
    Pirsig tries to say in lots of different ways in ZMM e.g. his section on
    Poincare. I think a general purpose of symbol manipulation is to create
    (not discover) truth, not in the "matching up with external reality"
    sense but in the "high quality pattern" sense. High quality patterns may
    have been mistaken for "objective" and therefore True in the past, but
    as all patterns evolve, so must truth. This understanding allows for an
    expansion of rationality without discarding its immense evolutionary



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