Tag Archives: philosophy

Pseu Pseu Pseudo-Do-Dah-Day

For Rob. Thanks buddy! Say hi to yer Mom.
We’ve been toying with some pretty weird bits of thinking here, and it’s already getting hard to follow. Lemme try and tie a few things together. Also, if you’re still with me, now’s a good time to point out that this humble site is best read in conjunction with the discussions on my Facebook, (Steve Bass), and for this bit, especially within the PPCC Philosophy Club page linked from my Wall or wherever it is.

Remember my mention of Pseudo-statements back at Willie’s story? Elsewhere, in Stage Magick and around about, notably at the PPCC Philosopy Club linked off my Facebook, I put up the business of our inability to prove a negative. The assertion that “This statement does not belong in the set of all true statements,” is a nice example. The statement is internally self-defeating, negated by paradox; it’s internally inconsistent, self-contradictory, neither true, nor false– a pseudo-statement. The “set of all true statements” statement is a tidy example in that attempting an answer produces a nonsense response awfully reminiscent, at least to me, of the sort of thing that happens to those hapless physicists when they try to crunch their numbers beyond the event horizon and into the heart of the Singularity. Lots of PHDs get real pissy if you try and take their numbers and drag them into the “real” world here. Like most of us, abstractions are fine for them. Hanging flesh on the ephemeral turns it into a monster for some. I, on the other hand, have no such qualm. If matter isn’t made of matter, as some rather esoteric physics appears to indicate, that most assuredly effects us, sez me.

The problem of proving a negative is stickier than the “True Statements” statement, because we can somehow tell the essence of the genuinely self-defeating pseudo-statement is True. Something about the very idea is akin to the business of the Singularity–we can’t seem to get there, or even define the nature of that There, but we know there has to be Something, OK? And thinking about it produces notions that resonate in our world.

We’ve also talked some about politics, and here’s the clincher. Our whole system, our World, maybe even our very Selves combine to make a big ol’ Pseudo-statement, overburdened by internal paradox and contradiction, and decorated with infinite concentric, overlapping circles and waves of Pseudo-reality.

The “Doctrine of the Many,” claimed by Zoroastrians, Jains, some Gostics, among others, avers that we humans are compound beings. Some scientists at the fringe have claimed this as well, but let me keep this as political as I can for a moment. The concept surfaces in Western thinking when we speak of “talking to ourselves,” which we all know can be quite an argument at times, and in notions like multiple personality. Most U.S. citizens will agree that we are a “Christian” nation in spite of that pesky 1st Amendment. We’ll acknowledge “diversity” in religious matters, but obviously those other guys are wrong and belong in Hell where they won’t fuck up our Christian Zen, see? The foundational Christian documents upon which the edifice of the world’s biggest group of religions includes a whole lot of admonitions about Love. Yet it is hardly necessary to provide examples of the embarrassing fact that a whole lot of Christians are rabid, violence-loving haters dribbling foam from their chins as the rail about how, “God hates fags,” or whatever. Don’t feel so smug if you’re a Buddhist or an Agnostic or < insert your favorite dogmatic crap here> and you still get that rush of glee when you see Saddam dangling from a rope or hear about the supposed demise of Osama. I may argue that a thing can be both A and non-A at the same time, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me that killin’ a motherfuckah is the same as turning the other cheek. Where is the Love in this set of systems/politicals/religions/nationalisms? It’s in there, but only in the sense that it sets the whole business up as a sort of cosmic, (and often comic), Pseudo-statement.

I spoke a bit with my homeless friend Rob yesterday and he told me about a guy he knows with some brilliant talent–musical, I think–that lives outside. Rob had burned himself accidentally and the topic brought to light his friend’s plight; the guy is a multiple, and periodically his alter will emerge and industriously destroy his life. The fellow named his alter Jack, I think, and knows of his existence from observing the destruction “Jack” leaves in his wake, but the two never interact. The guy blacks out and has no recollection of moving about in the world while Jack is in control. Once Jack put his feet in a campfire til the shared body required a lengthy hospital stay. One day Jack just may kill the both of him.

I’m saying Christendom is just like Jack and his host, and so is American society. So is the whole freakin’ society of the whole freakin’ world. Only we suffer from a far more advanced stage of the condition and our legs are buried in hot coals. Our hair is on fire. Those homeless dudes don’t worry about a house, but we’ve been building a huge edifice on a foundation of shit for so long we think we can’t backtrack, but backtrack we must. This house is collapsing upon us right now, as we speak, so to speak, and we need to get the fuck out, tear down the M.C. Esher thing we’ve been trying to build, and start the fuck over or we’re all going to be buried. Our society, societies, lives, and now even the solid earth is/are collapsing under the weight of internal contradictions of our own making.

Most who’ve read so far won’t need me to explain the function of a keystone–the stone at the top of an arch that concentrates the force and thereby holds the arch in place. When the capstone at the top of an arch at, say, a Medieval cathedral erodes, the arch collapses. The capstone of the Christian faith is supposed to be Love, right? Isn’t that key to a great many doctrines? It seems hard to find a player in all the world that will openly advocate for a doctrine of Hatred. Even the nastiest Devil-worshiping headbanger seeks Love, if only amongst his own within the particular bit of the Chaotic waveform in which he finds himself. Whatever. Our shit is missing its capstone. And its foundation is shit, too.

Don’t you dare get all dogmatically ideological and ignore the fact that I’ve NOT preached Jesus here, or any other tributary. We–and I mean all of us, including those of us clutching the notions of enmity so close to our hearts, and those addicted to power–need to stand back, tear the whole house down, and rebuild something with a thoughtfully drawn blueprint. We need to build an edifice on a foundation of Love, designed toward the capstone of Love. When we do that–oh, what a mansion we’ll have!

What did that one dude John say? “God is Love.” Right? Can I get a witness?

Right. Thus sayeth the housepainter.



(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

To the Fine Folks at the PPCC Philosophy Club

I feel like a point is at hand where any of you who have observed or participated in the conversation between David Arnold and me, including David, deserve a pause for breath. The two of us have come to dominate the message board, it seems to me, and this has never been my intention. So I’ve given the thing a little thought and here’s how it comes out, extemporaneously for you all to consider.

I love Philosophy. I think it’s fundamental and unavoidable–an existential imperative–that is, intrinsic to the condition of existing as a live, conscious human being. No matter how we live, or what we do or do not do, it depends directly from how we think. I also believe that we have little, if any control over what we believe, that being further dependent from what we think. I find the whole business of such dramatic import that I obsess over it all the time, and seek out forae like this one from which to further explore the mutiple, if not infinite facets of the jewel.

Having said that…this board is a tool for the furtherance of education for students enrolled at PPCC. Neither David nor I are any more than interlopers, guests in your house. I am grateful to the club for the experience as it has already unfolded, and I truly hope to continue. I believe I have a couple assets to offer and I hope you’ll all receive me with the humor with which I intend myself. Please–argue. I will not fight.

David, whom I address here personally, though I will continue in the second person for the group’s sake, has suggested that I am guilty of unspecified errors in reasoning. I would love to treat those errors specifically here, hoping the rest of the club will engage as well. In fact, given the best of all possible outcomes, I’d like to be allowed to invite David and the entire Stanford University Philosopy Department to debate the question of Materialism v Theism as the conversation has been tentatively labeled in our previous chatting, and to have the thing judged by an unbiased panel, right here on the PPCC club’s site.

I WILL NOT be an imposition here. I insist on explicit permission from the club, its officers, and Bruce if he considers himself in a position to arbitrate. This is about your education far more than it’s about mine. I’ve seen to my own learnin’ for some while now. It’s working out plenty fine for me. I’ll go away quietly at the simplest word from one with a legitimate say.

You’ll notice I carry on about what I “think,” and my “opinion,” quite a lot, and that’s part of what David finds elusive in me, I think. I don’t “know” very much at all, and I think you all will discover soon enough that nailing knowledge down is a very slippery business indeed. I do think I have something of interest to the average PPCC philosophy student, though, if not the average Stanford variety. Though the halls of Stanford may be filled with a rarified air too thin for my blood to endure, I ain’t ascairt.

Spread the word David. Even if they’re not game here at PPCC, Stanford’s been called out publically by an insousciant housepainter with a full 8th grade education. It’ll be FUN!

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)

Stage Magick

For Bruce McCluggage
Had some words with my friend Bruce yesterday–OK, lots of words. In fact, the Spirit moved me, so I was blasting words all over the place like that guy from the X Men, only with a gag instead of a visor. All the way toward the end of much conversatin’–and yes, Bruce held his end respectably in the face of my torrent–we came to a summation.

The idea is already on the pages here, so it’s important, and needing some flesh, but it’s also very simple. We all know we can’t prove a negative. Any third grade philosopher know this as an unshakable verity, right? So who will step up to prove that? No one, that’s who–we can’t do it, and mind you, I don’t hearsee that term coming from myself often. I’ll beat my kids senseless if I hear them using it. (Hi kids! Molto amore!). Hell the notion is generational. My totally outstanding 95 year old Granddad banned the word from his brood’s vocabulary, and he started his family during the Great Depression. But we can’t, and we know we can’t.

We can’t even prove that we can’t prove that we can’t prove a negative. We can add layers to our investigation to Eternity, and never can we prove a negative. And yet we know that we know that we know (&c.) that we can’t do it. What the Heellll!!? This is why: Reason breaks down at a point between proving and knowing right here for us to examine like a fascinating diamond, cut in some diabolically ingenious fashion to as to hide its facets from us like a tesseract or something. There’s math that explains this pretty succinctly. Look up Kurt Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, (here’s a good start http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/goedel/). Godel, whose name I’ll be disrespecting til I figure out how to add an umlaut on this thing, wrote a bunch of High Math, way beyond my capacity, that shows us in terms even I can grok, that any closed system can never possibly contain all the tools necessary to fully describe itself. With me so far?

This shows us another Eternal Verity: Truth transcends Proof; and further–our ability to know does the same. Now, Bruce is a philosopher, and kind of a Christian, so this sort of shit doesn’t bother him like it may the Scientific Determinists that may read this. What we are gazing upon, through the lens of our little diamond, is an example of our ability to “jump out of the system”, and view it from outside, in some manner as indescribable as how we can know there’s no proving a negative. (Apologies to Doug Hofstadter for abusing an idea I came across in Godel, Escher, Bach. I’m about to depart from his comfort zone, I think. He did, give him mucho credit, respectably describe the idea within the closed system of those pages). This is an ability we share with God. This, I think, is why some tidbit of western scripture says, “Ye are gods,” (Psalm 82, for you skeptics; read it all and get some context before attempting to argue, please).

This whole line of thought is closely associated with the Ontological Argument as proof of God, if not fully dependent upon it, (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/). For the uninitiated, this is a supremely brilliant bit of philosophical tomfoolery that attemtps to prove the existence of God by reason alone, in an orderly procession of thought utterly divorced from empirical evidence. If anyone would care to take it on, I’d love–no LOVE–to see a genuine debunking. It’s very slippery indeed, and feels for all the world like a stage magician pulling infinite decks of cards from his sleeves. But it’s irrefutable, in my stupid little mind. It jumps the system.

I’ll readdress the crap we’ve mulled over here, but this is good. Put simply–arithmetically, one might say–We can’t prove a negative>We know this>Truth is superior to proof>We are therefore superior to the closed system of All-There-Is>Only god is thus>We are gods. (Yes, I took a leap there at step 6. I only have so much attention span. Roll wit’ it for now, OK? It’s in the Ontological Argument if you feel like getting ahead of me). This is arithmetical, yes, and handily sums up my points from yesterday, Bruce and friends. But, as you’ve seen by now I guess, that doesn’t mean one can’t do a bit of Algebra, Trig, or (Meta)Physics with it.
Jeez, I hope you all enjoyed that. Please don’t burn me at the stake yet. There’s more. It’ll take a while to work around the mess of toroidal thinking here. See Bruce–I didn’t forget that part. I’m only human, even if we are all gods. Bear in mind all, that Nothing here is any more valuable than the opinion of one idiot house painter. And any of you who have read the stuff before this will know already: It’s all a bunch of bullshit.

(Reprinted from Hipgnosis)