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Intellect vs intuition (by Joni Mitchell)

 
can zen
 
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16 February 2011 05:39
 

I listened to a short interview with Joni Mitchell done some time during the 1980’s and was caught by surprise at her own assessment of how intellect and intuition are related.

Here’s that part of the interview:

Scandinavian interviewer:
“You said that the intellect is a very over-rated instrument, that you’d rather work from intuition . . . Is that how you still work?”

Joni Mitchell:
“Well, my intuition is more accurate than my intellect.  My intuition will tell me - like, first of all the instinct is like a computer chip; it’s like Shakespeare on a pinhead. You get a lot of information very fast - - - nyeep (makes an electronic sound)!  Now if you want to expand on that you’d have to go to your intellect to expand it, to tell it, but you would know - nyeep - that fast with instinct a tremendous amount . . . And if someone said, “what are you thinking?” You’d have to now go to intellect to tell it -  -  so it’s a lot slower. Intellect is a lot slower.  You can learn a (snaps finger) . . . And sometimes intellect will tell you . . .well it gets mixed up with image and all.  It’s slower and . . . (she thinks . . ) . . . Stupider!  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!  It’s a good tool, but it’s linear and analytical and, and you know . . .  Reason is revered as being, you know . . .the great standard.  I think it’s a wonderful tool, but highly over-rated.  I think there are other ways that knowledge comes that are clearer and quicker, and they can’t necessarily be explained!”

Maybe it’s this intuitive grasp that most people ignore and some people don’t even possess, where many of our actual decisions are made?  It’s definitely an experience beyond (or before) language, while intellect is entirely dependent upon language.  Maybe in this intangible intuitive sense is an experience of existence (our own) that “speaks” to us about our actual situation in this world?  This could be our emotional sense combined with sense of bodily place as expressed by our perceptual senses, maybe in our intuition is an evaluation of our being which combines vast amounts of information and produces a vivid or urgent compulsion of clarity?

Maybe this is that deep sense of wonder and knowing and being loved (by the universe?) that people ascribe to god in a (stupider) intellectual expression? Just a thought, poorly expressed I’m sure.

If you want to hear Joni herself go to: (This dialogue is in the last 1/4 of the video.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RujocOTwZk0&feature=related

 
 
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16 February 2011 10:32
 

Ms. Mitchell is talking the talk. Intuitive second floor flashy thoughts. “Shakespeare on the head of a pin”. Nyeep! I get it.
“You’d have to now go to intellect to tell it”, “go to your intellect to expand it”:  Up to the third floor to make a sequence or narration. “Intellect is a lot slower” It has to run or playback. “Stupider!” Ironically, what she is calling intellect has no intelligence of its own. “It’s a good tool:” A tool for harvesting our intelligence from the nyeeps. “:it’s linear and analytical” It makes sequences that allow for greater analysis. She totally gets the second and third floor.

It’s something about guitar players. Like many activities, learning guitar really makes these two mental operations stand out in contrast. One cannot consciously play guitar and keep time or keep in time. When performance time comes, if you really know your set, consciousness must find something else to do or vanish entirely and leave the work of playing and keeping time to the nyeeps. On the other hand, one cannot unconsciously learn guitar. Each component of playing must be introduced as a narrated instruction. The sequences must be spelled out (“expanded” “told”) before they can be imbedded into nyeeps. How well do you know your part? How well can you talk while playing it?
A good band plays totally from the nyeeps makes an “intersubjective experience” out of keeping time together.

Nyeeps is starting to sound like file folders. Imagine a flashing image of a folder called Shakespeare. It contains, all in one flash of nyeep, your bottomless cup (or head of a pin) of knowledge of Shakespeare. I say flashing because this is an idea that doesn’t have to run to be know on an intuitive (or second floor) level. Now, if you want to share Shakespeare, you’ll have to open Word (third floor) and run the sequence.

Bob:
Maybe it’s this intuitive grasp that most people ignore and some people don’t even possess, where many of our actual decisions are made?

Yes, IMO. All decisions made by everyone are on the first and second floor. When one begins to think that consciousness is in charge of anything other than the act of sequencing itself, that is the real user illusion.

Maybe in this intangible intuitive sense is an experience of existence (our own) that “speaks” to us about our actual situation in this world?

Yes, but no:. if our “intangible intuitive sense” could “speak” to us, we would not need a third floor. It flashes to us in tiny narratives. Our intangible intuitive second floor’s sequencing ability is very limited and can be observed mostly in just two formats: Last, now, next: or, three or four beats (nyeeps). Anything other than that is a stretch:. Until you break over into a new sequencing routine upstairs.

This could be our emotional sense combined with sense of bodily place as expressed by our perceptual senses, maybe in our intuition is an evaluation of our being which combines vast amounts of information and produces a vivid or urgent compulsion of clarity?

I had to run that twice but I agree. What if that was all we had? What would our lives look like? Ask a cat.

I think we started to build nyeeps of such brilliance and complexity that the only way for the brain to inform even itself of its brilliance in any useful way was to have them “play out” as inner narrated experiences.


I have updated my file folder of Ms. Mitchell. Nice lady.

 
 
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16 February 2011 10:46
 

Kenneth:
unless our intellect can somehow (subsequently) provide the reasoning as to why that intuited piece of knowledge must be valid (i.e. unless it can be explained), it remains an isolated, self-validating supposition about which we can really say nothing meaningful

Agreed. Assuming we want to think beyond the level of a cat, or a rebulican.
The subsequent somehow is for the cycle to repeat and refine itself. New intuitions arises from the old and Joni’s “intellect” plays and analyzes them, the experience of which leads to new intuitions, and then new sequences, until slowly over time, you create a big complex reasonable narrative or explanation. I call that result the Long Answer.

 
 
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16 February 2011 12:06
 

Thanks to Joni and Bob, as you’ve allowed me finally to feel that I understand Nhoj’s system of floors or stories. Yes, technique that gets applied to the performance of music abhors the third floor, as well as much within the second. This might cause one to question the intelligence of all competent musicians, except that during practice and rehearsal sessions, the third floor can be exceptionally well utilized. Having in past years relied on music performance, in part, to make a living, I’ll share my perception of musicians in general: We’re a neurotic lot because we all fear a thought occurring when we’re only trying to play—a strange way to exist. Dealing with a long answer on stage has the potential to kill a performance, and seriously damage the performer, as well.

Nhoj, do you think that musicians who’ve started learning their instruments and reading music (if reading is applicable to the genres involved) at a very young age are perhaps able to play and think at the same time with some limited success? For them, playing their instrument seems to resemble what we do with our brains when we speak or listen to words, which allows a certain amount of third-floor direction to intervene, if done quickly, like sparks from a grinding wheel, wouldn’t you say?

(I’m attempting to clarify my own processing of distinctions between the floors.)

 
 
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16 February 2011 14:10
 
nonverbal - 16 February 2011 11:06 AM

Nhoj, do you think that musicians who’ve started learning their instruments and reading music (if reading is applicable to the genres involved) at a very young age are perhaps able to play and think at the same time with some limited success? For them, playing their instrument seems to resemble what we do with our brains when we speak or listen to words, which allows a certain amount of third-floor direction to intervene, if done quickly, like sparks from a grinding wheel, wouldn’t you say?

I know some ancient bass parts whose performance is so first floor that I can have a coherent conversation at the same time. Stick me in front of a piano and while playing, I’ll talk like Tarzan or just nod.

I knew such a guy. We teamed up in 8th grade and my standards for band mates have been spoiled ever since. He grew up with a piano and got his “hand wiring” in early. I started with Swans on the Lake and a teacher. He started with Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff sheet music in the piano bench. He got some help learning to read it and then he mastered it by that magic combination of boredom, self-discipline and no one telling him to do it. He played with a grace and fluidity that was spell-binding. He taught music theory to me in a way that only two kids on the playground could share.

One Saturday in ’75 or so, we went to Grinnell’s in the mall to see the new Yamaha CP-80 Portable(!) Grand Piano. They let us hook it up to some amps and he started running through some Bach and Beethoven and by the time he got to Debussy, they gave him something to sit on. The piano itself sounded amazing and we were lost in it. I can’t remember the title:. The Debussy piano thing: when he’s in the mood, no one does it better. Maybe 15 or 20 minutes of this went by and I looked around and there were people everywhere: in the store, in the doorway, pressed against the glass and half blocking the mall. They all had the same transported smile on their faces. Then the Fire Marshall made him stop.
We lugged a CP-80 around for a few years later on.

The crowd dispersed and resumed shopping all two or three notches happier. I am having a postja-vu. I have posted this tale before?


I always felt intimidated writing parts for him. The songs had to be worthy of his abilities. There was always some set-hash. We’ve all moved on long ago and I feel blessed for the years I spent with him. My internal intuitive nyeep folder of music theory is still the one he gave me.


To get back to your question: yes, I think so.

My memory is that he could always play and talk. I think I was more surprised by those who could not speak at all while working something up and would even say, “Shhhh!”

I would describe his kind of ability this way- Double third floors. A little one that pops up to resolve a tight spot in a improve than vanishes, leaving plenty of goo available for an entirely separate narration on a separate third floor.

 
 
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16 February 2011 14:50
 
Nhoj Morley - 16 February 2011 09:32 AM

It’s something about guitar players. Like many activities, learning guitar really makes these two mental operations stand out in contrast. One cannot consciously play guitar and keep time or keep in time. When performance time comes, if you really know your set, consciousness must find something else to do or vanish entirely and leave the work of playing and keeping time to the nyeeps.

I agree wholeheartedly. The same holds true for golf, target shooting, and plenty of other sports activities.

Now, apply the same idea to morality. I submit that morality is most effective when it’s subconscious (which is where the nyeeps reside). If you have to stop and decide whether a particular action is moral, that’s not going to be as effective in terms of dictating your behavior as if it’s a subconscious/emotional decision.

For example, if it takes an internal debate with yourself to decide whether to steal something from the grocery store, you’ll probably end up being a shoplifter (if you think you won’t get caught). But if the thought of stealing never even crosses your mind, or if it causes you emotional distress, you won’t do it.

Unfortunately, as Harris points out, our nyeeps aren’t always right when it comes to moral dilemmas. But they’re better than reason at dictating our behavior.

Nhoj Morley - 16 February 2011 09:32 AM

On the other hand, one cannot unconsciously learn guitar. Each component of playing must be introduced as a narrated instruction. The sequences must be spelled out (“expanded” “told”) before they can be imbedded into nyeeps. How well do you know your part? How well can you talk while playing it?

I say the same holds true for morality, despite the claim that humans have some innate sense of it. I don’t doubt that we do, but I don’t think our innate sense of morality is the dominant factor in determining what we eventually come to believe is moral. Nor do I think whatever innate sense of morality we do have is necessarily suited for our current environment.

Morality should be drilled into children at a young age, before they’re even able to reason. Drilled into children’s subconscious, like they did in the Hitler Youth, or in Huxley’s Brave New World. As long as it’s the “right” morality, this is our best hope of ensuring that everyone behaves in a way that maximizes the well-being of conscious creatures.

 
 
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17 February 2011 02:33
 
Nhoj Morley - 16 February 2011 09:32 AM

“Stupider!” Ironically, what she is calling intellect has no intelligence of its own. “It’s a good tool:” A tool for harvesting our intelligence from the nyeeps. “:it’s linear and analytical” It makes sequences that allow for greater analysis. She totally gets the second and third floor.

This really resonates Nhoj, “what she is calling intellect has no intelligence of its own.”
Sort of makes one think of ‘intelligence’ as a hammer or maybe even a complete tool kit, but this clearly points to our “knowing” being deeper than we normally accept or observe it to be.
This is extremely provoking for a site called “Project Reason” it seems, but we all probably realize that reason itself is not the answer we are looking for. Reason is the ladder or the device we use to construct our understanding, but by itself actually empty.

I love the analogy you make with music and our ability to play music, and although I am not a musician I totally understand what you are saying.  I’m actually understanding your points from the perspective of a karate practitioner.

A good band plays totally from the nyeeps makes an “intersubjective experience” out of keeping time together.

I guess this is what makes jazz or any sort of improvisational progressive music so much more advanced or visceral or inspirational than other forms of music? Funny that when one is high even something like Judas Priest is found to contain traces of this deep-play within it, but it becomes virtually undetectable when one is not stoned.

All decisions made by everyone are on the first and second floor. When one begins to think that consciousness is in charge of anything other than the act of sequencing itself, that is the real user illusion.

I think you have just explained the illusion of the self Nhoj. ‘Self’ is just a name that we call ourselves for the sake of reference, but aside from the word “itself” the word ‘self’ has no content.  I think intuition is just the motive/emotive aspect of our bodily being and if you think about it for a second, every living aspect of our phenomenal being is constantly in action and activity. So if you compare to the informational volume of the impact from our physical presence to the amount of knowledge that is stocked-up in our language files, the intellect is almost empty except for the strings of words that are stored there. Oddly enough these words ALL happen to point to more visceral, phenomenal experiences that actually happened to us at some time in our lives. Real memories are not textual, but sensual. I think of the word ‘re-member’ as the action of our brain redirecting nominal information back into the senses so that we can actually grasp the sensual nature of our experience that formed the meaning of that name or that word.  Like even when someone’s name is mentioned, we get a feel for that person (a visual image, a smell, auditory noting of a voice, an physical essence of what that name is referring to).  I think the word ‘remember’ is a directive from our brain to re-member by sending a signal back to the eye (a member), the ear (a member), the skin (a member), the nose (a member) so that we can re-experience via these organs (members) the sensual/experiential content of that name or the meaning of a word or phrase.

I think we started to build nyeeps of such brilliance and complexity that the only way for the brain to inform even itself of its brilliance in any useful way was to have them “play out” as inner narrated experiences.

This is probably true, but in a sense it also goes to show just how entrapped we are in that third storey. The more complex we become, the more difficult it becomes for us to reaccess the lower strata of our lives, yet it is in these bottom floors where all the action takes place; where life actually happens! Or maybe, as in the case of Joni Mitchell the frequency of the nyeeps builds a new space between the second and third floors and allows such a person to get a foothold on the threshold of a better perspective?  Building chambers between floors might be a way to open up a whole new way of understanding who we are?  We’re just cats that can talk, basically (like Miles Davis “cats”).

Here’s an interesting dichotomy for those interested in how 30+ years of life can have an impact on a real person.  It’s the same song - the first from 1968 and the second 2000. . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTVjCWekS1Q&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKQSlH-LLTQ&feature=fvwrel

 
 
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17 February 2011 02:43
 

To nonverbal
I’m happy that Joni and I were able to “help you” Dave.  I think it was your connection with music and Nhoj’s references to it that really helped.  Joni Mitchell was apparently quite a gifted guitar player, and she basically learned by ear. I’ve read that she tuned her instrument to a very strange tone/pitch/whatever and other studio professionals were amazed at how she got the sounds out of it that she wanted - and that it sounded great!

accupunturist: Interesting that you bring out our moral intuition as an example of deep second floor cognition. This is probably quite true in that our moral sensibility is largely emotive. I am a bit frightened by your prescription that we should “drill” morality into young children even before they learn a language just like they did in Hitler youth.  Where did this come from and how does it possibly fit into what you began to talk about?  Can you explain yourself a bit more clearly?

 
 
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17 February 2011 04:38
 

One role of the conscious intellect is to assist with learning the stuff that will become unconscious. I think it’s erroneous to think of the intellect as entirely conscious. I’ve had the “nyeep” experiences with music (even though I’m not very good at it), as well as with computer programming (which most would consider a paradigm of conscious intellectual activity). IMO, nobody can do anything really well unless they incorporate it well enough that it becomes mostly unconscious. Whether this level of unconscious intelligence is “first floor” or not, I cannot say. If it is, then “first floor” contents are learnable and can be modified by conscious activity.

 
 
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17 February 2011 11:10
 

Auntie S:
Morality should be drilled into children at a young age, before they’re even able to reason. Drilled into children’s subconscious, like they did in the Hitler Youth, or in Huxley’s Brave New World. As long as it’s the “right” morality, this is our best hope of ensuring that everyone behaves in a way that maximizes the well-being of conscious creatures.

Boldly put. That has always been the traditional method and works reliably on communities of short thinkers where reason is property of the Holy City. Long thinking arrives in the majority eventually and when that happens, reason must become egalitarian and authority must become elective farce instead of a divine mantle. Morality must become reasonable or exposed to reason, and that reveals a terrible secret.

All the pieces of it are in your post.

I submit that morality is most effective when it’s subconscious (which is where the nyeeps reside). If you have to stop and decide whether a particular action is moral, that’s not going to be as effective in terms of dictating your behavior as if it’s a subconscious/emotional decision.

Since the nyeeps come first, their moral inclination will manifest itself in the resulting actions and choices they impulsively compel. If you stop to decide, and make a narrated moral choice, then, either one has already been trained to default all perceivable choices to a moral narrative or there is no nyeep based moral impulse to override.

I say the same holds true for morality, despite the claim that humans have some innate sense of it. I don’t doubt that we do:

As in, born with one. Would you agree, as your moniker suggests, that means any such innate and observable morality within us was designed by the lives and needs of our ancestors over millions of years? And, this morality would likely be self-centered or limited to family or immediately perceived communities? What experience of our ancestors led them to encode a morality for very large communities linked only by a belief in a common narrative? I say none.

:I don’t think our innate sense of morality is the dominant factor in determining what we eventually come to believe is moral. Nor do I think whatever innate sense of morality we do have is necessarily suited for our current environment.

That suggests that they are not even doing the same job. Or for the same reason.

Bison don’t go to school to learn about bison morality. They don’t narrate, so they don’t need to know what their morality is all about or whether or not it is reasonable. We do, so we could make a documentary about perceived bison morality, while they could not do one about us. We might even see traces of our own moral sensitivities in the program. Probably basic and immediate responses to the needs of self or family or pod or tribe. Maya Angelou fans may enjoy calling that altruism but I don’t know.

Any similarities in animal moralities may be construed as evidence of an absolute morality, but really only suggest a moral consistency among animals. Missing from the process will be the bit where we see the young bison going to school to learn their morality. What gives? They’re just bison. What do they know?

They know nothing, just as we once did not. The difference? The knowing is in the narrating. So if, like the Hilter youth, we all know the same things, that means we all share the same narrative. The one we learned in Hilter school. That’s where we learn the morality of the narrative. This morality is for the benefit of the narrative itself- for its own survival and propagation. These are the moral choices we make that defend or uphold something greater than ourselves. Which it is.

Once the truth is known, that all moralities are truly good relative to and within the framework of the host narrative and all other competing narratives are evil, then the time has come to strike a new deal. One that is more equitable to the individual and capable of managing multiple narratives. A New World Narrative with a New Morality that is Truly Good: and off we go again. Unless, as I suggest, we embrace the farce. The free-floating truth that isn’t truly true but we’re doing the best we can. The Pledge of Alligence would be replaced with the Laugh of Alligence.


That’s a long way off, but just visible on the horizon:

 

Poldano:
One role of the conscious intellect is to assist with learning the stuff that will become unconscious.

I would suggest that is its only role, aside from being the experience of the ego.

I think it’s erroneous to think of the intellect as entirely conscious.

I’ve made a mess of those words on this whole tangent and so has Joni. This is an intellect that isn’t intelligent and consciousness is function that we can be aware of or not, but is not awareness itself. In my scheme, one can be unconscious of consciousness. I have attempted to run a narrow rope bridge over a burning molten word salad. Very risky.


Stand by, Mr. Zen.

 
 
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17 February 2011 12:49
 

My husband built a recording studio and I used to go and watch the musicians and noticed that most of them were quite inarticulate….well, at least when talking about music.  I assumed it was because they were stoned, but, maybe they weren’t and they were just functioning on that intuitive level while performing.  I guess that’s why they develop their own jargon to express concepts that are almost entirely experiential.  I just finished reading Keith Richard’s autobiography and he writes a great deal about what it’s like to think like a musician, esp. in relation to drugs. Good read.

 
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17 February 2011 15:22
 
Poldano - 17 February 2011 03:38 AM

One role of the conscious intellect is to assist with learning the stuff that will become unconscious. I think it’s erroneous to think of the intellect as entirely conscious. I’ve had the “nyeep” experiences with music (even though I’m not very good at it), as well as with computer programming (which most would consider a paradigm of conscious intellectual activity). IMO, nobody can do anything really well unless they incorporate it well enough that it becomes mostly unconscious. Whether this level of unconscious intelligence is “first floor” or not, I cannot say. If it is, then “first floor” contents are learnable and can be modified by conscious activity.

Plato (7th letter) gave a discussion of learning (in support, in part, of a comment that the real truth of philosophy was something that he had never written and never would).  He distinguished five stages of knowledge:
The Name
The Definition
The Image
The True Opinion
The Fifth
The first four were things one could learn, the “fifth” required a flash of illumination that the first four, if thought about too much, would actually interfere with.  This was elaborated by a modern philosopher (Dreyfus) (without credit) into a five layer levels of expertise theory:
Beginner
Advanced Beginner
Competent
Proficient
Expert
Again, the first four involved conscious thought, learning the rules, knowing how to apply them, and so on.  Then the expert does it all automatically.  Some research in psychology (Gerd Geigrenzer, Gut Feelings) seems to indicate that for ordinary non-experts thinking before acting improves performance but for experts think about what they’re doing makes it worse.  At the expert level, the only role for consciousness is to perceive the overall pattern as it unfolds so that opportunities for creative interventions and ad libs can be grasped (and these are also automatically acted on or not as part of the flow).

“Do it an hundred times, it becomes difficult.  Do it a thousand times, it becomes easy.  Do it a thousand times a thousand times and it is no longer thou that doth it but it that doth itself through you.” Frater Perdurabo

[ Edited: 17 February 2011 15:24 by burt]
 
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17 February 2011 15:35
 
Nhoj Morley - 17 February 2011 10:10 AM

Auntie S:
Morality should be drilled into children at a young age, before they’re even able to reason. Drilled into children’s subconscious, like they did in the Hitler Youth, or in Huxley’s Brave New World. As long as it’s the “right” morality, this is our best hope of ensuring that everyone behaves in a way that maximizes the well-being of conscious creatures.

Boldly put. That has always been the traditional method and works reliably on communities of short thinkers where reason is property of the Holy City. Long thinking arrives in the majority eventually and when that happens, reason must become egalitarian and authority must become elective farce instead of a divine mantle. Morality must become reasonable or exposed to reason, and that reveals a terrible secret.

Let me clarify. I’m not championing short-thinking. Indeed, long-thinking is essential to the science of morality. I’m not suggesting we leave that to the nyeeps. What I am suggesting is that the subconcious is a more effective governor of human behavior than the conscious. Once we’ve arrived, through reason, at our theoretical, subjective moral imperative (be it maximizing the well-being of conscious creatures or maximizing the well-being of the master race), we still need to put it into practice. We still need to compell people to behave according to our moral theory. And the most effective way to do that is through the subconscious.

Nhoj Morley - 17 February 2011 10:10 AM

I say the same holds true for morality, despite the claim that humans have some innate sense of it. I don’t doubt that we do:

As in, born with one. Would you agree, as your moniker suggests, that means any such innate and observable morality within us was designed by the lives and needs of our ancestors over millions of years? And, this morality would likely be self-centered or limited to family or immediately perceived communities? What experience of our ancestors led them to encode a morality for very large communities linked only by a belief in a common narrative? I say none.

Darwinian evolution is a slow process. There’s no question (at least in my mind) that the increasing size of our communities outpaced the evolution of whatever innate sense of morality we inherited. But the lives and needs of our ancestors over millions of years also designed us to be adaptable. Our subconscious minds are designed like field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) that come programmed from the factory with a default set of predispositions. But the factory program can be overwritten—provided one doesn’t wait too long. You can’t teach an old nyeep new tricks.

The factory program is the self-centered morality you mentioned: the one that’s limited to family or immediately perceived communities. The problem with leaving it in place to run in parallel with reason is that since the factory program resides in the subconscious, it will be more effective at dictating an individual’s behavior than conscious reason. You’re right: they’re not doing the same job for the same reason. Unfortunately, the wrong one’s usually at the helm.

 
 
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17 February 2011 18:27
 
Nhoj Morley - 16 February 2011 09:32 AM

It’s something about guitar players. Like many activities, learning guitar really makes these two mental operations stand out in contrast. One cannot consciously play guitar and keep time or keep in time. When performance time comes, if you really know your set, consciousness must find something else to do or vanish entirely and leave the work of playing and keeping time to the nyeeps.

(Andrew):  You guys are way too cerebral for me.  I learned to play music by listening to other people play music and trying to sound like they did.  I agree with this, though…you can’t get hung up on the mechanics.  When students came to hear me play, I’d put a handkerchief over my hand.

 
 
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18 February 2011 05:06
 
burt - 17 February 2011 02:22 PM
Poldano - 17 February 2011 03:38 AM

One role of the conscious intellect is to assist with learning the stuff that will become unconscious. I think it’s erroneous to think of the intellect as entirely conscious. I’ve had the “nyeep” experiences with music (even though I’m not very good at it), as well as with computer programming (which most would consider a paradigm of conscious intellectual activity). IMO, nobody can do anything really well unless they incorporate it well enough that it becomes mostly unconscious. Whether this level of unconscious intelligence is “first floor” or not, I cannot say. If it is, then “first floor” contents are learnable and can be modified by conscious activity.

Plato (7th letter) gave a discussion of learning (in support, in part, of a comment that the real truth of philosophy was something that he had never written and never would).  He distinguished five stages of knowledge:
The Name
The Definition
The Image
The True Opinion
The Fifth
The first four were things one could learn, the “fifth” required a flash of illumination that the first four, if thought about too much, would actually interfere with.  This was elaborated by a modern philosopher (Dreyfus) (without credit) into a five layer levels of expertise theory:
Beginner
Advanced Beginner
Competent
Proficient
Expert
Again, the first four involved conscious thought, learning the rules, knowing how to apply them, and so on.  Then the expert does it all automatically.  Some research in psychology (Gerd Geigrenzer, Gut Feelings) seems to indicate that for ordinary non-experts thinking before acting improves performance but for experts think about what they’re doing makes it worse.  At the expert level, the only role for consciousness is to perceive the overall pattern as it unfolds so that opportunities for creative interventions and ad libs can be grasped (and these are also automatically acted on or not as part of the flow).

“Do it an hundred times, it becomes difficult.  Do it a thousand times, it becomes easy.  Do it a thousand times a thousand times and it is no longer thou that doth it but it that doth itself through you.” Frater Perdurabo

Thanks yet again, burt.

I almost certainly got the notion from Plato, directly or indirectly. The notion came back at me through some cognitive science, where the neurological data support it. It’s also rife in folk psychology (eg, martial arts).

Gerd Geigrenzer’s work is down on my required reading list somewhere, especially after Malcolm Gladwell’s pop-culture riff on it in Blink.

 
 
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Poldano
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18 February 2011 05:20
 
Nhoj Morley - 17 February 2011 10:10 AM

Poldano:
One role of the conscious intellect is to assist with learning the stuff that will become unconscious.

I would suggest that is its only role, aside from being the experience of the ego.

I was going to let this stand, since I regard universal articles as being sufficiently self-destructive for my active intervention to that end to be unnecessary.

However, I suggest that one very important additional role for consciousness is staying alive long enough to learn the stuff that will become unconscious—i.e., situational awareness. This may be a different form of awareness in your book, but subjectively it is unified with the conscious experience, and usually leads to very vivid memories that are often foundational.

Nhoj Morley - 17 February 2011 10:10 AM

I think it’s erroneous to think of the intellect as entirely conscious.

I’ve made a mess of those words on this whole tangent and so has Joni. This is an intellect that isn’t intelligent and consciousness is function that we can be aware of or not, but is not awareness itself. In my scheme, one can be unconscious of consciousness. I have attempted to run a narrow rope bridge over a burning molten word salad. Very risky.

Empathy experienced. This stuff is a universal bitch to talk about; we just don’t have very good concepts for the phenomena, much less good words.

 
 
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