Archivo de la categoría: Philosophy

The logical ballerinas: “Brain”

“Brain”. It is supposed to be the crucial but also imaginary organ of this sculpture of Rodin. As physical, tangible reality, the brain is the most sophisticated and dazzling object of the known universe. I have one of those inside me. And you, by the very fact that you are reading these words, have another one. Another one of such amazing living diamonds. Do we own such a jewel or are we owned by it? 

“Brain”. The purpose of this philosophical dictionary is not to give meanings to words, is not to confine their semantics, but to calibrate their spell ability: their strength to configure contents of consciousness. Worlds.

Let’s go now into a fabulous labyrinth of mirrors. One first step: Who or what wants to study, to see, to consider, to measure, to modelize, etc., the so called “human brain”? Who or what wants to create in its own brain an image, an idea, an atlas, of its own brain? Can the brain be object and subject of knowledge at the same time?

It was reading Schopenhauer when I was dazzled for the first time by what is called “brain paradox”. It can be stated as follows: the brain, as a thing between things, is part of the world (like trees or snails or cars or stars). Seen like this, as a concrete cut of the visual impact of the world, it appears as something three-dimensional, tiny, vulnerable, and apparently created, configured and also pitiless submitted by the laws of Nature.

But, on the other hand, according to Schopenhauer (who was a lover of Kant´s Philosophy), it is precisely inside the brain, and only there, where occurs that what we call “world”. 

If we do not philosophize  (if we are not conscious of our thinking) we will not notice that we are identifying that what the neural connections of our brain are able to build and call “Brain”, with ‘that’ that is supposed to be surrounding the brain itself: the ‘outer world’, including it it, of course, the very matter of the brain itself and of the whole body itself. The theories of a neurophysiologist (if we accept and follow those same theories) are phenomena within the electrical and viscous inner-cosmos of their own galaxies of neurones. That inner-cosmos would be the habitat of the models of brain of a neurophysiologist.

It could be said, from the current scientistic materialism, that the brain is one of the things that can be contemplated inside the brain if the brain works properly (inside that magic box can also happen an Autumn breeze that bristles the skin of memory). And from that materialism it can also be said that we will be more cognizant of the brain the closer we get to a certain neuronal conexions-path, to a certain form, or dance if you want, in the matter of our brain: the precise one that propitiates a suitable representation of what is the brain in itself.

Let’s look at what is behind the word “brain”. Let’s do it with the infinite eyes of the Goddess Philosophy, which, according to neuroscience, is just a cerebral activity (the cerebral activity modelling itself, looking at itself… From where?).  The word “brain” (that powerful logical ballerina) is going to give us a wonderful opportunity to philosophize seriously: without laziness, with extreme courage, ready to swim in the ocean of the infinite, of the unbearable even (but unbearable, sometimes, because of its extreme beauty).

The great intellectual ecstasy of Philosophy begins. I truly believe that our philosophizing can receive an extremely fertile rain if we look at what is said about the brain from the current models of neurophysiology  (from these determined configurations of the chemistry of our brain, if we accept those very models). 

But, what do those models say? 

I will focus on the human brain. As far as I know, it is said that the brain is a concrete part of the human body, an organ which is considered the centre of the nervous system. It contains billions of a special type of cells called “neurones”, which, amazingly, connect with each other, or not, creating, or not, clusters of connexions, or associations (let’s say societies). I have read that the neurones can cooperate in societies of millions of members and that it is still uncovered the mystery of the way that cooperation really works. It is also said that the brain tissue produces energy, electricity indeed (like a small, organic nuclear power station), which, if many neurones work together, can be powerful enough to get out of the skull (the box of the brain) and be measured outside. That organ, that crucial ‘machine’ [See “Machine”], is comprable with a computer. Actually, some current models of neuroscience use that comparison to improve their insight of the brain. And they do it on the grounds that the brain is a centre of perception and processing of data. The scope of such perception, as far as it is commonly accepted in today’s science, is quite amazing: light, sound, chemical composition of the atmosphere, temperature, head orientation, limb position, chemical composition of the bloodstream… The hypothalamus, which is one part of the brain, can even check the sodium level, the glucose level and the blood oxygen level, and send some of those outputs to the pituitary gland, which reacts introducing hormones into the bloodstream that are capable of changing cellular activity.

It is also said that learning and memory are core activities of the brain. Santiago Ramon y Cajal might have explain such capacities arguing that they were just changes in the synaptic connexions between neurones. Such theory could have started to be fully proved by a stream of investigations triggered by a paper of Tim Bliss and Terje Lømo published in 1966 in Journal of Physiology. The key discovery of that paper was the so-called “long-term potentiation”: the strengthening of the synapsis between neurones caused by recent activity. There is also the opposite: the “long-term depression”. Both phenomena might be showing what is now called “synaptic plasticity”, which implies that the connexions between neurones can strengthen or weaken depending on their activity during a period of time. Thousands of millions of neurones capable, willing to connect among each other… What might occur if that total connexion takes place? The brain (that huge mystery) being completely conscious of itself? Philosophy, viewed from the current models of neurophysiology, could be described as a bomb of conscious thoughts set inside those galaxies of neurones in order to trigger its final, ecstatic connexion: the infinite synaptic plasticity.

The scientific models of reality I have just shown are the framework of some amazing projects that I would like to mention (and to thank too): 

  • https://alleninstitute.org/what-we-do/brain-science/ . On the webpage of this institute (which was founded by Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft along with Bill Gates) we are said what follows: “The human brain is the most complex piece of organized matter in the known universe. We use our singular approach to uncover its mysteries and share valuable resources with the global community of neuroscientists”.

Our civilization is now fascinated with the human brains: with those complex pieces of organized matter. Inside those cosmic jewels might be the key of everything.

Neuroscience. Philosophy. Let’s see what the following individual thinkers (individual brains) say about the brain:

1.- Schopenhauer. The paradox of the brain. Let’s go back to it:  the brain, as thing of the physical universe, is in space, but space (the continent, the ‘box’ of the physical universe) is only in the brain (Pararega and Paralipomena II, p. 48, according to the classic edition of Arthur Hübscher, revised by his wife Angelika, and published in Mannheim in 1988). The philosophical system of Schopenhauer overcomes such paradox placing the physical brain as part of the created world, as a kind of tool used by our deepest I in order to contemplate our own creation.   

2.- Humberto Maturana. Biology of Cognition (Biological Computer Laboratory Research Report BCL 9.0. Urbana IL: University of Illinois, 1970). Maturana is one of the three creators of the concept “autopoiesis”, which refers to the alleged capacity of self-generating and self-maintaining of the so-called “living systems” (It is said that the other two creators of such concept are Francisco Varela and Ricardo B. Uribe). The brain: Maturana says the frog can not see all the animals (it does not see those that are especially large and slow). The activity of the brain is the result of the demands of the living system that nourishes it. Reality is made by living systems. Is it also the very theory that generates the brain of Maturana something (let’s say bio-artificial) that nurtures the living system that owes him? How can that theory be true if it is generated by a biologically enslaved brain whose sole purpose is to nourish something called “living system”? It deserves to be read the schematic study on the thought of Humberto Maturana offered by John Lechte in this work: Fifty Key Contemporary Thinkers: From Structuralism to Postmodernity (Routledge, London 1994).

3.- The computational functionalism of Hilary Putnam [See here, still in Spanish] as solution for the mind/brain problem: the mind is the software; the brain is the hardware. The criticism of John Searle in his paper “The Chinese room argument” (“Minds, Brains, and Programs”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1980): a computer can behave as if it understood Chinese, but it would nevertheless not be a mind, because it can not think, be conscious, of its own behaviour. Searle does focus its criticism on digital computers. But, what kind of machines are still to be created? Schopenhauer already considered the brain as our most sophisticated artificial creation. Because, indeed, we would not be “human beings”…

4.- Antonio Damasio [See here, still in Spanish]: The error of Descartes. That error was to believe that the most refined operations of the mind are separated from the structure and functioning of the biological organism. The brain and the rest of the body constitute an inseparable organism composed of biochemical and neural regulatory circuits that relate to the environment as a whole, and mental activity arises from that interaction. So…  Does our brain have the size of the whole physical universe? Do we think with all that?

5.- Richard Dawkins: The God delusion, 2006. In this book there is an epigraph that takes by title “The mother of all the burkas”. From the groove of his own burqa, and always through the kaleidoscopic lens of scientist materialism, Dawkins states that what we see of the real world is not the real world, but a model of the real world, regulated and adjusted by sense data (a model that is constructed in such a way that it is useful to deal with the real world). Dawkins   also states that the nature of that model depends on the type of animal we are. According to that theory we could ask: Is not that very theory (the model of reality that Richard Dawkins exposes) just something useful that his brain (his body) needs in order to deal with the real world? So: Do brains reflect reality or create it? Does the survival of the system require ‘reality’ reflected cerebrally or just fantasy capable of triggering will to live? [See here my full article on Richard Dawkings still in Spanish].

Now I will try to convey what seem to be my own thoughts (the secretions of my own brain) about the mystery of the brain:

1.- “Brain” is, first of all, a word. Nothing else. Nothing less… It can also be said that it is the result of applying a certain system of cuts in the visual reality of the so-called ‘universe’. I see no brain beyond a certain mental software (if we use the metaphor of Hilary Putnam).

2.- We are always bewitched by language. To see the exit, if you want, you have to be able to feel that both “atom”, “neuron”, “brain” and “science” are words: artificial fruits of mental models: secretions of something ineffable that, given that I am now inside a phrase, I have no choice but to name it ‘brain’. In fact, it is posible that in a very close future a new model of “brain” might emerge. For example a model that affirms the identity between what we now name “brain” and what we now name “universe”.

3.- The logical ballerina “Brain” usually dances together with another: “Mind”. It is said that from the last third of the twentieth century the philosophy of the mind is acquiring a privileged place in what we call philosophical reflection. But the leading idelogy nowadays is the one which asserts the material dimension of the brain. [See “Matter”]. Okay. But every physical object, according to current Physics (M-Theory), is supposed to have eleven dimensions, not only three. Therefore,  the current models (the draws) of the brain are mutilated: the brain itself (even considered as a pure physical object) is impossible to draw. Impossible to see. Even impossible to imagine.

7.- The brain… I don’t really know what is that, but, if I close my eyes, I can feel it, ‘there’, like a huge magical, infinite whale. And I can also send it calm, silence, even love… That is something I do almost everyday. Believe me: After no more than one minute, that mysterious, unsayable ‘thing’ seems to be born again, ready to go on loving life, producing worlds if you want.  The question is: From where do I feel my own brain? Where really am I?

Enough. Let’s take Philosophy out of the dance room where the logical ballerina “Brain” needs to dance. That beautiful ballerina is part of a mighty dream: the dream of scientific materialism, which offers fabulous worlds, and fabulous expectations.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Dream”.

“Dream”. We dream. The very fact that this happens is simply prodigious. The philosopher never gets used to the prodigious: never gets used to what seems to be plain reality.

In the following notes I will convey some reflections that are dragging me towards a deactivation of the universals “Dream” and “Life”, and, perhaps, their replacement by a neologism (a new-born universal) that would be something like “omni-life” [See “Universals” still in Spanish]. We could say that we omni-live, given that there is no ontological difference between the different ‘realities’ or ‘worlds’ (or ‘dreams’) in which we enter, feel and leave throughout the infinite time and space of our mind.

Which are the limits, and the exact contents, of life? How much do we experience, do we live, within a life, if we include our dreams inside it? How many people and emotions and buildings and landscapes are born and die in the great theatre of our mind (or our “brain”, if you want to dream inside the current network of neurophysiology)? [See “Brain”].

“Life is dream”. Okay. Yes. But what exactly is that what se call “life”? How to rank the different worlds (dreams) in which we enter and leave within a lifetime? Where am I now exposing these questions? Inside a dream? Inside a life? Who writes now? Who reads? Where?

I think it would be philosophically more effective to say that dreams are life, pure life; and to eliminate expressions such as “It was just a dream”. I think a dream is something big. Just because it is life.

Can we -as Buddhists claim- awaken once, and completely? Will we wake up in another dream -more real, more true, than this one in which we are now- when we ‘die’?

Taoists claim that we  (human beings and their worlds) are the dream of a butterfly: the dream of something that enjoys an infinite lightness. The dream of a Nothing indeed… [See “Nothing” still in Spanish].

In the logical ballerina “Materia” [See] I narrate a dream in which, once I had reached the consciousness that I was dreaming, I could contemplate the dreamlike matter of some trees of my childhood; and even feel in my oneiric skin a breeze that triggered inside me a burst of extreme, let say metaphysical beauty. On the night of May 24, 2011, I had a similar dream. Also a lucid one. I bring it now here transformed into words:

I am in a house that is supposed to be mine. There are many people inside it and also in the garden. Among those people are my closest relatives. Suddenly I realize, frightened and dazed, that that is not exactly my house. And I begin to suspect that I am dreaming, so I tell it to my brother. He does not believe me. I try to convince him, and also some other people who I do not remember now, that we all are in a dream: in a fake reality. They don’t believe me. Then I doubt if I’m dreaming or not. So I decide to do the test that always works for me in such oneiric situations: I raise my arms, ready to fly, willing to fly. And, immediately, I do hover some meters above the ground, above the people. That makes me aware that I have an enormous power to configure that reality: that I can do with it almost anything I want. But I also remember, while flying, that I must remain calm and focused so as not to lose my power, my lucidity. Calm and focused inside that ‘artificial’ reality. 

I fly towards the highest branches of gigantic trees. I stop, almost in meditation, so as to contemplate in detail the prodigy of that oneiric-vegetable matter. Before that unique spectacle, that unique masterpiece, I feel a truly glorious aesthetic-metaphysical emotion: I am contemplating the matter of dreams and one of its possible configurations.

I resume my flight and, after an unmeasurable period of time, I arrive at a kind of mountain chalet, apparently uninhabited, very beautiful, illuminated with a green/gray light: the light that lives and dies just before sunrises. Then I see a sign with a phone number. I wonder what would happen if I called that number. I do not do it. I don’t care about that number. Actually, I do not want to be distracted, to lose my power, my distance, my immunity, inside that dream. What really interests me now is the pure contemplation of the matter surrounding me, hosting me. I keep flying towards I do not know where.

I arrive at a huge building with large windows on its roof. Through those windows I can see children sleeping inside a bedroom. They wake up and discover me. I do not know what to say. I tell them that I am an angel, that they should not be afraid, that I am there to take care of them, so that they have a precious life. One of chikdren tells me that he already knows who I am because he has seen me in a movie. The other children don’t pay attention at me anymore. I decide to ask them to play with me. Suddenly, I feel powerful love-emotions in my heart and I lose some concentration and control. I feel like I have to urgently get out of there, out of that fake reality, but not flying, because I am aware I have already lost the power to fly. I run down a large staircase, like the ones of the old luxury buildings in Berlin. I feel anguish. I want to wake up. Urgently! I am scared…

But I wake up in another dream. In that new dream I want to write some notes about what I have experienced in the previous dream and bring them to this philosophical dictionary. There are many children making noise and I am unable to concentrate. So I can not write a single word. My mobile rings. It is a voice message. I remember suddenly a third dream (a third artificial reality) in which I had just started a passionate relationship with a woman. A woman with green eyes, very beautiful and very ugly at the same time, whom I had met while leaving a bag at my son’s school. In the message she said she was suffering a lot because I did not return her calls. Her voice sounds anguished in my cellphone. Then I am aware, horrified, that this woman was part of an already melted dream: a  passionate life dissolving  into nothingness like a dying rainbow.

I wake up in this dream or “Omni-life” from which I now write. And I feel a mixture of philosophical fascination and vertigo because of the pitiless volatility of worlds, of lives, of ‘dreams’. And I also feel very sad remembering that woman of nothing who truly loved me from the nothing offering me everything.

Dreams. Life. Sadness. Love…

Before presenting my own ideas, I consider it useful to mention the following thinkers:

1.- Buddha. “The awaken one”. Why to wake up? In order not to suffer? I order to access something glorious? I suggest to continue in life knowing that it is a dream, a sacred dream, an “Omni-life”,  and work hard, dream hard, in order to raise its beauty, its sacrality.

2.- Kant. He said that he had awakened from the “dogmatic slumber” [Dogmatischer Schlummer] thanks to Hume. What is a “dogmatic slumber”? The logical dancers (“time”, and “space”, and “causality” of course included) drag us into the dream of beliefs that they create. But we can not live without them. Because to live is to dream. Because to live is to be bewitched, fascinated, by beliefs.

3.- Schopenhauer. Let’s read this powerful thinker in the first part of his work Parerga and Paralipomena (P I, 232-233, according to the classic edition of Arthur Hübscher, revised by his wife Angelika, and published in Mannheim in 1988):

“[…] in the mere dream the relation is one-sided, namely, only an I really wants and perceives, while the others are nothing but phantoms. In the great dream of life, on the other hand, a reciprocal relation takes place, in which not only one appears in the dream of the other, just as it is necessary there, but also this last one appears in the dream of the first; so that, by virtue of a real harmonia praestabilita, everyone dreams only what is appropriate to him, in accordance with his own metaphysical guidance, and all Dream-Lifes are so artificially intertwined that everyone experiences what suits him and, at the same time, accomplishes what others need […]” 

(The translation is mine. You can check it in the original German version that I paste next).

“[…] im bloßen Traume das Verhältniß einseitig ist, nämlich nur ein Ich wirklich will und empfindet, während die Uebrigen nichts, als Phantome sind; im großen Traume des Lebens hingegen ein wechselseitiges Verhältniß Statt findet, indem nicht nur der Eine im Traume des Andern, gerade so wie es daselbst nötig ist, figuriert, sondern auch dieser wieder in dem seinigen; so daß, vermöge einer wirklichen harmonia praestabilita, jeder doch nur Das träumt, was ihm, seiner eigenen metaphysischem Lenkung gemäß, angemessen ist, und alle Lebensträume so künstlich in einander geflochten sind, daß Jeder erfährt, was ihm gedeihlich ist und zugleich leistet, was Andern nöthig […]”

4.- Freud. 1900. The interpretation of dreams [Die Traumdeutung]. Freud asserts that each dream is a psychic-artificial product full of meaning: a psychic product to which a perfectly determined place can be assigned in the psychic activity of the ‘awakened life’. Freud, though, is spellbound by words, by logical ballerinas  like “Science”. He is a nineteenth-century thinker that speaks of the ‘ancients’, who, in their ‘pre-scientific ignorance’, believed that dreams could be a place intervened by external deities, and that in dreams there were messages, which even announced the future. Freud wrote his famous book feeling that there had been no advance from Artemidorus Daldianus (2nd century AD) in the technique of the interpretation of dreams. Freud considered anyway that the matter of dreams is just memory, which would store absolutely all the experiences lived by a human being since childhood, even the smallest ones. Objective of the interpretation of dreams: to heal our psique. Freud wants to use the dream (the remembered dream indeed) as a tool in order to bring before “the light of reason” (that exorcist goddess) everything repressed, locked inside our unconsciousness. This would end, according to Freud, with suffering: making the unconscious conscious we would be essentially cured. And it was the patient-dreamer who interpreted his own dream, letting the images go uncensored towards the purifying light of reason. Against the science of his time, Freud did believe that dreams made sense, but he rejected the use of fixed interpretive keys because he considered them simple superstition. Finally, Freud, in his work The Interpretation of Dreams, confirmed the popular belief, which, according to him, always considered dreams as a space for the realization of desires that were frustrated in real life. The “dreams of anguish”, though, would be a failure of the system: what is desired by the unconscious would be -morally- unbearable. Then awakening would simply take place.

These are my own ideas about the logical ballerina  “Dream”:

1.- The dream/lives are contents of conscience. I do not find more appropriate words to convey it. I believe that these contents build a fabulous work of art that is being contemplated from a place that is unsayable from here.

2.- We do not die because we do not live. “Living” is a too simple word. “Dreaming” and “Dying” are also too simple. As I suggested in the beginning of this text, I think it would be more appropriate to say that we “omni-live”. Because the fact is that we enter and leave many lives while living.

3.- I believe that in our dreams, life included, messages and ‘external’ beings do enter in order to help us. I am talking about messages that we send ourselves from other realms of our infinite consciousness.

4.- We should not rule out the possibility that someone is contemplating us at this moment, with tenderness, as when we contemplate our sleeping children. And it should also not be ruled out that  that ‘someone’ is loving us and taking care of us from where we might wake up when we die.

5.- The dogmatic slumber. This philosophical dictionary shows the narcotizing power of the logical ballerinas (words / concepts / universals / ideas/ beliefs). I think that any kosmos noetos, in a Platonic sense, is narcotic, but also vivifying, unrenounceable: any cosmos is an artificially constructed and coded dream. The Word (the programming) submerges us in a deep and prodigious  dogmatic slumber. But it turns out that we are also the coders of such prodigy.

6.- The interpretation of dreams. What is ‘interpreting’? Why ‘interpret’? Some worlds nourishing others? But, from what logic? Is not Logic itself, too, a hallucination of the mind? Maybe yes. But we do have to live this dream, in this dream, this very one, and it’s worth looking for nutrients, ideas, milestones, messages -whatever it may be- in other worlds so as to raise the beauty and sacrality of this one. I believe, with Freud, that dreams are at the service of our health, but understanding “health” in a much broader sense.

7.- Awakening. We all know, deep down, that when a dream -or life- gets too hard we can get out of it: we can dilute it in the nothingness, reduce it to pure unreality. We decide what to live and what not.

8.- Silence inside the dreams. Dreams, in general, are noisy, uneasy, like caricatures of this dream/life from which I now write. In dreams, generally, very little peace is felt, and very little freedom… Can we meditate within a dream? Yes. I meditated inside a dream, after knowing myself dreaming in a kind of assembly of religious dignitaries that took place inside what seemed to be a cathedral. It was an experience that I can not really communicate now. On another occasion I dreamed of a town surrounded by light and silence. Everything was too  calm. Too wonderful. Then I felt that I was not in an ordinary dream; and I was terrified because I knew that ‘that’ was something beyond my own death. Or something related to my death. And I did not want to die. Not yet. While dreaming I remember having a beautiful little daughter of four years existing in what I then considered as my real life. So I chose -out of love, out of radical love- to return to this life/dream, renouncing the delights of that -lethal- paradise.

9.- I suggest to differentiate between ‘passive sleep’ and ‘active sleep’. The God of monotheisms, the Creator-God, before creating, had to actively imagine his Creation. It is not possible to think of an instantaneous Creation, not previously imagined and then desired. And you can not desire something that is not previously seen in your imagination. The passive dream would be an entrance into the fruit of one’s own imagination and desire. That might require a self-limited consciousness so as to perceive the created reality as something alien. That could actually be the very meaning of Creation.

10.- Paradise. I do not discard its existence as a perfect dream experienced from a level of consciousness still self-enchanted. Paradise as materialization of everything desired but not fully accomplished “in life”: as the last gift of the brain for itself (if we do not want to get out of the current physicalist-cerebral model).

11. The beloved dream. I remember being dragged by cataracts of successive dreams in which I thought again and again that I had awakened, at last, in the true reality. But none of them was the beloved dream. And I knew it all the time. Until I came back to this one. The one I am sharing with you, my dear reader.

So, my beloved dream is just this: this one from which I write, because in it there are wonderful beings for whom it is worthwhile to assume the sufferings of the ‘ignorant’ (according to Buddha): the one that  -out of pure love- does not detach himself from his beloved dream.

I want this text to end with the above cited words of Schopenhauer. Let’s read once more that great philosopher writing about the logical ballerina “Dream”:

“[…] in the mere dream the relation is one-sided, namely, only an I really wants and perceives, while the others are nothing but phantoms. In the great dream of life, on the other hand, a reciprocal relation takes place, in which not only one appears in the dream of the other, just as it is necessary there, but also this last one appears in the dream of the first; so that, by virtue of a real harmonia praestabilita, everyone dreams only what is appropriate to him, in accordance with his own metaphysical guidance, and all Dream-Lifes are so artificially intertwined that everyone experiences what suits him and, at the same time, accomplishes what others need […]”

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Tapas” (Creative suffering)

 

 

Tapas. It is a word, a concept, that triggers inside my mind a paramount philosophical fascination. It comes from Sanskrit. This language was written in Devanagari (“the writing of the gods”). The beauty of its calligraphy can be enjoyed in the text that flies over these phrases. It is the beginning of the famous Creation Hymn (10.129) of the Rig Veda. You can find it on this generous website: 

www.sacred-texts.com.

Tapas… We are going to philosophize about a specific type of suffering: the creative suffering.

Nietzsche raised the -of course unwilling- suffering to the highest realms of human nature and sacralized who were able to cry a heroic yes to life, with all its suffering. The philosopher of the hammer worshiped a heroic artistic effort whose goal would be to enhance the bewitching aesthetic power of life, of the sole, immanent reality. Schopenhauer, on the contrary, uttered a radical no to life, to this world, and also proclaimed not only the urgency of its complete annihilation, but also the possibility of the Creation of another world, of another whole reality, unthinkable, even unimaginable, from this one. [See my paper, still in German, on the place of magic in the  philosophical system of Schopenhauer].

Pain. Suffering. Creation of reality. Tapas

We are facing a Sanskrit noun related to the verb tap (to heat). I recommend, to those who still do not know it, this powerful resource:

Cologne Digital Sanskrit DictionariesThere we find these meanings for Tapas: “heat”, “the five fires to which the devotee is subjected in the hot season”, “pain”, “suffering”, “religious austerity”, “mortification of the body”, “the sacred learning of the Brahmins”, “giving the soul to the Brahmins”, “service”, “feeding with roots and herbs”…

The point is that Maurice Blomfield went far beyond and, in his edition of the Atharva Veda, translated Tapas as “creative fervor” (Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 42). You can access this work from here: 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe42/index.htm

Such conception of the Tapas can also be found in the aforementioned Creation Hymn of the Rig Veda, whose third verse sings:

“Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning; with no distinguishing sign, all this was water. The life force that was covered with emptiness, that one arose through the power of heat”.

I have quoted from the translation and editing of part of the hymns of the Rig Veda made by Wendy Donniger (Penguin, London 1981). This translator includes a note in the word “heat” that says the following:

Tapas designates heat, in particular the heat generated by ritual activity and by physical mortification of the body.”

But it turns out that we are facing a hymn that wants to explain the mystery that there is something instead of nothing: something, in addition, that arises out of nothing: the Creation. And the key seems to be in a certain type of suffering; or, rather, in a creative channeling of suffering.

This creative power of the ascetic sacrifice -the “heat” of asceticism- shows up in another famous hymn of the Rig Veda, the Purusa-Sukta (10.90), which describes Creation as the result of a violent dismemberment of a primordial man. Let’s  read its ninth verse:

“From that sacrifice in which everything was offered, the verses and the chants were born, the meters were born from it, and from it the formulas were born”.

It would seem that the huge suffering of that ‘proto-human’ who was dismembered by creative gods would be the fundamental energy of all creation -including the primeval Word [See the introduction of this philosophical dictionary]. 

I now proceed to convey some personal thoughts on the mystery of suffering (I have lived long enough to have experienced it, several times, in its amazing fullness):

1.- The reality of suffering, even of extreme suffering, is undoubtedly one of the core elements of our existence. Furthermore, it could also be said that the intensity that such feeling can reach is one of the most astonishing experiences of our lives. 

2. I see two basic types of suffering: ‘protective’ and ‘creative’.

  1. The protective suffering. This one serves to protect, to sustain our world, our current model of existence (for example, the pain that prevents us from performing acts that may threaten the integrity of our physical body, or the stability of our financial dimension, or the survival of our family-archetype, or the purity of our model of sexuality, or the alleged sacrality of our nation’s flag). The worlds and their bewitched inhabitants are protected by a dualistic pleasure/suffering system. Anything that threatens or breaks our cosmos causes suffering. Let’s think about the suffering (‘logical suffering’ could be called) caused by the discourses that derive from political ideas radically different from those that structure, that sustain, the political /ideological comfort of the listener.
  1. The creative suffering. This one would propitiate the need to flee from one unbearable world and create another, and even to take some essential jewels of the first and bring them in the new one. I mean something like a metaphysical emigration that carries what is unrenounceable (a son, for instance) in its harsh, but also creative travel. This type of Creation/Migration requieres extreme, unbearable suffering. It reminds me of Marx’s idea of ​​using the extreme suffering of the working masses to completely dynamite that which he considered as a capitalist (and therefore anti-human, evil) system. In fact that extreme suffering, when it exceeds certain thresholds, works like a plow (and also as a magical wand) in the infinite garden of our conscience. That extreme suffering can even break the containment dykes that separates us from ‘the other’. Anyway, if, as Buddha or Schopenhauer say, life is extreme suffering, we could affirm that life is Creativity (with capital letters). Ubiquitous and permanent Creativity. Creativity that also presupposes (needs) destruction, pain. I am talking about an involuntary personal hell that, at the same time, is the factory of any heaven, and not only of our private heaven, but also a heaven that might be shared with others.

3.- Many of us can remember this: to be suffering intensely inside a dream, and, suddenly, to be conscious -from a mysterious, radical lucidity- that we could escape from that torturous dream at any moment. Only willing to do it. And we do it. We actually did it, because otherwise we would not be reading this text.

4.- It could be said that all the worlds are open. It is possible to leave, to scape to another Maya, or to the ‘nothing’ from which they sprout and to which all the worlds return. Can we create worlds? Yes. And not only that: we can re-create ourselves. And it seems that the decisive force for such huge project is a previous, unbearable suffering: a prodigious emotional catapult. A catapult that you have to handle wisely if you want it to cause the desired effects. Paradoxically, extreme suffering may be an opportunity to perform allegedly impossible miracles inside the world that was protected by the non-extreme suffering. Extreme (not voluntary, let’s insist) suffering might be considered pure magic. That seems to indicate the hymns to the Creation of the Rig Veda to which I have referred before.

Next, I offer a link in which you can see a fragment of All the Mornings of the World, a film directed by Alain Corneau. It tells the astonishing story of Saint Colombe, a seventeenth-century musician who channeled his extreme suffering (and his extreme self-discipline) to create a music capable of summoning and also shaking his dead wife. That music is interpreted for the film by Jordi Savall. Enjoy in fullness this supreme fruit of creative suffering:

 



The logical ballerinas: “Machine”

At Christmas 2009 I went to London with my daughter Lucía. There I took the first notes for a future essay on the metaphysics of machines. My quest was, and still is, to visualize, and to lay out, the model of totality implicit in the very fact that we speak of “machines”.

I believe that we need a new Logos regarding what is now presented as man/machine (and also nature/machine) dualisms. We need new Logos (new spells, new logical ballerinas) in the service of illusion and life, no matter under which forms, no matter within which artificial cosmos.

London. The city of Francis Bacon, who dreamed a technological Eden for human beings. It is a eighteen-year-old Francis Bacon who appears in the sky of this text.

That winter London was almost completely white. Serene. Extremely beautiful. So was my dear thirteen-year-old daughter, who did not stop taking pictures in rusty corners of the subway, or in medieval dark frozen walls where the artificial moss of truly talented graffiti dazzled like if they were new metaphysical essences created inside the Baconian Eden, by Baconian human beings: Scientists creating new essences, new machines. Together. The perfect human society.

We entered the Royal Academy of Arts in London. There was an exhibition of sculptures by Epsein. We contemplated the “Tripod” for a long time: an anthropomorphic machine gun that triggered fascinated horror in our minds.

That night, in the house of some friends, we witnessed a display of interactive techno-magic delivered by the Apple-wizards: kind, gentle artefacts, all of them capable of coordinating with each other in order to offer us almost infinite contents of “artificial” consciousness: music, pictures, movies… It seemed as if any conceivable reality could appear on a huge screen that, surprisingly, also reflected the London buildings at night. Nothing to do with Epsein’s tripod. Nothing to do with the hostile machines of the “Matrix” trilogy.

“Machine”. I find particularly interesting and accurate the first definition that the Royal Spanish Academy gives to this word (in Spanish “Máquina”):

“Machine (from lat. Machĭna, and this from doric gr μαχανά).”

“1. f. Artefact to take advantage of, direct or regulate the action of a force”.

Some years ago I taught some Philosophy courses based on the “Matrix” trilogy. I think that in those courses we could feel that the very idea of “machine” trembled pathetically, in the same way as all my logical ballerinas do. In the Matrix movie Morpheo tells Neo: “Free your mind”. Free your mind from machines?

I suggest to take into consideration the following authors (the first of them is the one who governs in the sky of this text):

1.- Francis Bacon. New Atlantis. The human being, grouped in scientific societies, liberated from false mental-idols, can create a brand (artificial) new world. A world of machines in the service of human beings.

2.- Heidegger [See here still in Spanish]. The question Concerning Technology. The technician does not really do anything. It is the Being which operates through him. The erroneous metaphysical dualism would reduce nature to “object”, to “rex extensa”, to something there, dead indeed, ready to be invaded and used by an “external” human being.

3.- Nishitani. Religion and Nothingness. Effects of the materialistic-Cartesian dualism implicit in the modern scientific vision of technology: objectivization of human beings and of nature as a whole. Alienation, nihilism, isolation, solitude.

4.- Juan David García Bacca. This philosopher wrote a work whose title is Elogio a la Técnica [Praise the Technology]. García Bacca was in fact a lover of technology. And of Poetry. Maybe because a master work of Poetry is also a machine, something able of channeling forces in order to trigger calculated effects. The works of García Bacca should be translated into English to widen their scope, their influence. This is the link of his foundation: http://fundaciongarciabacca.com/, which is located in Caracas (Venezuela).

I offer now my thoughts in a more orderly way:

1.- According to current Physics [See “Physics” still in Spanish] everything moves, orderly, mechanically, obediently to immutable natural laws. The entire universe might be a huge machine, actually the only one: a machine of machines, a machine that might have already coded, inside itself, any possible future “artificial” machine, because in fact the human brain (the alleged origen of the “artificial” machines) might be a machine: also coded, enslaved, subjected to the “big-universe-machine”. But such model does not seem to grasp the possibility that this total-machine could be modified, as if by magic. Actually, by whom? By what? What could have that mighty, unthinkable power of radical transformation of physical laws? In case those laws could change according to eternal laws of modification of laws, then we could not speak of real change (of metaphysical freedom) but of a huge enslaved solitary-God/robot.  

2.- It can also be said that we live in a grammar machine. Vak -the Vedic goddess of the Word- would be the commanding voice of that prodigious machine we call cosmos, or universe, or world. Is she free? Is she coded? Is indeed that goddess just another huge, prodigious machine?

3.- The entire universe, and any universe (any cosmos dancing any ideological music), may be machines in the free hands of something that vedanta might call Brahman: the great dreamer: the great builder of Maya/machines. Every world would be the artificial (lets say even “poetical”) channeling of a love. The love of God if you legitimate this word, this concept [See “Concept”]. It is said that God made the world out of love.

4.- There is a type of machine that fascinates me especially. It is a kind of human exo-skeleton (even exo-soul) that we call “cars”. I use to visit many cars-websites. Many. What subjugates me mostly is the aesthetic struggle, effort, that takes place in the car industry: that huge work focused on achieving the perfect design in order to trigger an unstoppable desire of owning such machines, as if some sort of “evolution of species” were taking place. It is remarkable that such meta-biological evolution does not stop.

5.- Other machines that fascinate me are the so-called “computers”, the big ones, and the very small ones, like those we still call “mobile phones” even tough they actually are small, portable super-computers and super-cameras and super-cinemas and super-universities and many other magical/prodigious things (of course also dangerous things). Many people are worried about those machines, I mean the so-called “smart mobile-phones”. It seems as if somebody looking at them while waiting the bus might be mentally kidnapped, because he is supposed to be watching or “consuming” stupid contents. Few people take into consideration that one person might be reading Kant or Francis Bacon on his “phone” and another one reading truly stupid things on a book. Paper-pages are sacralized simply because they are old, because they have history.  New materials (like the ones used to make the so called “screens”) are waiting for that sacralization. Its a question of time. I truly love paper pages (specially their smell, and their silence): I have spent some of the best moments of my life watching them, utterly fascinated, but I do also love the cold/crystal screen of the computer I am using now to write this text, the computer that makes possible that you (a likely reader living thousands of kilometres away from me) can read it. First time I saw one of my sentences taking existence on the screen of a computer, expanding its length, changing, emerging or disappearing in a mysterious white dimension, I felt I had entered a brand new, delicious world. And I felt deeply moved. We need a new concept, a new word (a new logical ballerina) to honour that what we still call “computers” or “mobile phones” or even “the internet”. Lets work on that.

6.- We should consider the possibility of thinking, and feeling, all our “machines” as changeable, non essential, parts of our biological dimension, in the same way as we think the wings of a butterfly or our legs (we can live without legs). We seem to exist in a poly-morphic physical structure. And it can be said that a car is as biological as the wings of a dragonfly or the heart of a dolphin. But cars (those exo-bodies) are extremely transitory, subdued to extremely cruel laws of survival of the fittest: the fittest for the human being, whatever that might be [See “Human being”].

7.- The portrait of Francis Bacon (the machines-world prophet) I have chosen for this text is surrounded by an inscription that reads: “Si tabula daretur digna animum mallem”. In English: “If one could but paint his mind”. I think we should not paint our mind. The oil might eventually dry it, kill it. The challenge is to transform our mind into a sacred, crystal-transparent machine. And I consider that the best way of building, carving, such prodigious machine is just to clean (to polish) its windows, and to make them as big as possible: as big as the very mind: no wall without windows.

8.- We should transform, elevate (sublimate) our mind into an attentive and thoughtful diamond-machine, a prodigious machine capable of channeling any force (no matter how dark, frustrating or poisoned) in the service of love and beauty: in the service of the core of reality. Of the pure truth. In fact, the more you study and know any reality (cockroaches included), the more you love it, and the more you find beauty in it, even though no reality has reachable bottom: it can infinitely be deeper studied and known.

9.- A huge diamond with an inner dancing room, lets say a stage big enough for the dance of the logical ballerinas: they represent no ultimate reality, but they are beautiful, and necessary. We need them as temporary bewitching models of the prodigious immensity that surrounds and compounds us. We need them to go on loving the world which we take as real. And the bigger and cleaner the diamond walls of our mind, the more beautiful the logical ballerinas that will enter, and dance, inside it. And, from time to time, we should politely, affectionally ask the logical ballerinas (no mater how beautiful they are) to be quiet, and we should just look though the windows of our mind, without models or ideas.

Our mind: our most powerful machine. 

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Religion”

In the photograph you can see the Hoggar mountain range (Algeria). Many years ago I went there on my motorcycle. And suddenly, one afternoon, while the sky was slowly being filled with silent white fires, I felt something extraordinary: everything around me (sky, mountains, rocks, desert, wind) was transformed into ‘someone’: ‘Someone’ with a superhuman and truly unbearable beauty -almost lethal- that was looking at me, and lets say loving me.  The whole cosmos became presence… I say ‘someone’ because I felt that ‘that’ was aware of himself. And aware of me too.

I felt something similar again two years later in Lyon (France), just walking, alone, prosaically, around the airport. Once again, suddenly, everything was ‘someone’. A presence exploded into my consciousness, an unbearable presence that, now, I can only qualify as sacred. Why sacred? Because it emanated omnipotence, feeling, closeness, attention, magic, sublimity… and love.

Now, almost thirty years later, and I do not know how many dozens of books read since then, I think I can say that those two phenomena were religious. And they were so because I felt a bond, a religation, with something great, infinitely bigger and more beautiful than me and than any imaginable thing.

By the way: That ‘thing’ told me nothing. It just was there, sublimating the whole reality, and my whole existence.

“Religion”. Another logical ballerina. Lets see how does she dance.

There are two etymological interpretations of the word “religion”. The first is based on the Latin verb religare: to tie, to bind, to link.

Link with what? Do those links really happen? Why? Can they be artificially propitiated? Can they be socially institutionalized, regulated, theorized?

The second etymological interpretation comes from the Latin word religiosus, synonymous with “religens”, which would be the opposite of “negligens”. José Ferrater Mora says in his beautiful  Dictionary of Philosophy that in this second interpretation “being religious is equivalent to being scrupulous, that is, scrupulous in the fulfillment of the duties that are imposed on the citizen in the cult of the gods of the State-City.”

I suggest the following readings in order to approach the logical ballerina “Religion”. Just three powerful books:

1.- Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling. Here we find the radical recommendation of jumping into the lethal, inhuman abyss of God. Religion as a lethal, annihilating link.

2.- William James [See here still in Spanish]: The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. This is a classic study on the radical human experience of God´s presence, of God´s sudden apparition. 

3.- Michel Hulin [See here still in Spanish]: La mystique sauvage, PUF, Paris 1993. This is a work that deserves to be read. It studies the non-civilizational, radically private and free religious experience. It should be translated into English. Any volunteer? 

And I share some philosophical reflections now, caused in my mind by the logical ballerina “Religion”:

1.- Considering a cosmos not as the totality of the existent things but as the totality of things (lets say values, relationships, structures, models of life and death and after death, possibilities) we have been told that are real (in summary, considering a cosmos as a story, as a legend we take as real and in which we believe we exist), I see too kinds of religious links: intra-cosmic and extra-cosmic: free thinking versus enslaved thinking, free love versus robotized, narrowed, civilizationally focused love.  The intra-cosmic religions might foster an auto-confinement in a dogma, in a logical/civilizational product: that link offers certainty and successfully harmonizes individual lives within human societies. It can also become a way of making money. This religiosity can be very useful, and even also healthy, but only if it is not assumed too seriously: it can easily degenerate into fanaticism (stupidity, hatred). It truly provides certainty and can even help to channel superavits of fear and envy and frustration, but it always presuppose blindness, and smallness. The extra-cosmic religious link, though, might connect us with the abyss, with the infinity, with something that expands our eyes and hearts, that pushes us to love more, to study more, to question more, to create more too. Surprisingly, we can also find this kind of open religiosity in the most powerful religions of our civilization. For instance, in Christianity we find a philosopher like Gianni Vattimo [See here still in Spanish], the creator of the “weak thought”, who affirms that to be a real Christian implies to be “a bad Cristian”. In Islam we find Ibn Arabi, Rumi, Averroes, Avicena… In Hinduism we have the Upanishads, which point out the absurdity of the sacred texts in which they are included (the Vedas) and also of any rite or ceremony. In Marxism we find Horkheimer [See here still in Spanish]. In Judaism we have the jewel of Levinas [See here still in Spanish]. Within the religion of Science we can find a man like Stephen Hawking [See here still in Spanish] thinking that, when we try to understand the origen of the universe, the ideas of Saint Augustine of Hippo have the same epistemological value as the ones of the Big Bang theory. We find this shocking ‘confession’ in his book The grand design (Bantam Books, New York 2010), written together with Leonard Modlinov:

“Model-dependent realism can provide a framework to discuss questions such as: If the world was created a finite time ago, what happened before that? An early Christian philosopher, St.Augustine (354–430), said that the answer was not that God was preparing hell for people who ask such questions, but that time was a property of the world that God created and that time did not exist before the creation, which he believed had occurred not that long ago. That is one possible model, which is favored by those who maintain that the account given in Genesis is literally true even though the world contains fossil and other evidence that makes it look much older. (Were they put there to fool us?) One can also have a different model, in which time continues back 13.7 billion years to the big bang. The model that explains the most about our present observations, including the historical and geological evidence, is the best representation we have of the past. The second model can explain the fossil and radioactive records and the fact that we receive light from galaxies millions of light-years from us, and so this model—the big bang theory—is more useful than the first. Still, neither model can be said to be more real than the other”.

2.- We could also speak of purely logical religious-links versus pure silent religious-links: religiosities derived from the spells of the goddess Vak. Here would be theism, atheism, etc. Just wars of names (or wars of Gods): “Nature”, “Life”, “Universe”, “Knowledge”, “Science”, “Human rights and dignity”, etc. All of them require the installation and updating of symbolic constructs: books, sermons, indoctrinations.

3.- The religious bond, if fully successful, triggers an irruption of energy: it is as if the ‘connected human being’, suddenly, received an energy that was not available to him until ‘the connection’. There are various energizing cosmos, various energizing religions essentially incompatible with each other in many cases. How is that possible? Perhaps it could be argued that certainty, and the end of doubts and fears, and also the feeling of being part of a closed and protected community, might give strength and peace, which altogether might trigger exceptional flows of energy inside human body and mind and whatever. Are energy and peace and certainty the ultimate goals of human existence? 

4.- Philosophy, when you try to practice it seriously, must be radically empiricist: we should not be tempted to eliminate facts or sensations even though they do not fit into some of the paradigms that struggle to be the home of the whole in the whole of our mind. The religious feeling is something very serious. Very big. Too big maybe. Philosophy can nor ignore it.

5.- We also should be able to accept the possibility of the existence of a very serious, very close and loving bond with some minor god, as Salvador Paniker seems to yearn in that refreshing work that is entitled Asimetrías (Debate, Barcelona 2008). I made a book review that can be read [here].

6.- If we, with Schopenhauer [See here in German], endure the thought -and the feeling- that we are the secret directors of the theatre play of our lives, it must be possible to affirm that the religious bond would be something like a communication, a vibrating cable, set between our creative self – natura naturans, the Great Wizard-  and our created self (natura naturata).

7.- We should consider the existence of  a prodigious dreamer who, conscious and omnipotent inside his dream, inside his created dream, could love an individual person, a concrete picture, dreamed-drawn by him. Dreamed-drawn so prodigiously that the picture could also love back its dreamer, its draftsman; even if that “picture”, that creation, could not see his creator, not even successfully think or speak about him. 

Inside the created world it might only be possible to feel him (I mean the Dreamer/Draftsman), and even to feel his feelings, occasionally, like I maybe did almost thirty years ago, in the mountains of Algeria.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Progress”.

“Progress”.

In the image that flies over these phrases you see a centaur born inside the imagination of the painter John La Farge. A female centaur, actually. It is very likely that some day we will see those beings galloping and chatting and thinking and kissing in our parks, and on the streets; and it will also be very likely that someone will yawn watching them (the human being has a shocking  capacity to routinize prodigies) [See “Human being”]. I also imagine someone yawning, bored, devoured by the prosaic, in a glass house built in a ring of Saturn.

Progress. An almost mechanical mental association leads us to think about “technological” or “scientific” progress. How far can that Baconian magic go? I mean the so-called “Science”. What new essences -in an Aristotelian sense- are we going to be able to create with the matter that is given to us, that constitutes us? [See “Matter”].

Another type of progress: that of human societies (developed/non-developed countries). How can that be measured? Is a senior Google executive more developed than a Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer? Why?  What are we going for?

And another: “personal progress”. Where, in which realm, should the human being progress in order to reach his fullness? Is it possible personal progress in a society without progress?

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The logical ballerinas: “Human being”

What appears in the image is supposed to be a sculpture of a being who, in 1758, called himself  Homo sapiens. Well, actually, Carlos Linneo did it. That famous namesgiver was  a great Swedish poet dedicated to Biology. Rousseau and Goethe venerated him. It was not God who named the animals. Not even the human animal, who seems to have named itself.

Homo sapiens. Human being. Are we before logical dancers, pure symbols, “nothings” that want to be something in a living consciousness? Are consciousnesses always “human”? Is it me, the one who now writes, a human being? Are you also that being? What is exactly a human being?

Before exposing what happens in my mind when the dancer “Human Being” dances in it, I suggest to take a look at the following ideas, questions and perspectives:

1.- The scientist-naturalist-evolutionist story: the matter [See here “Matter”] in which that story believes  that story (its universe), suddenly, at a specific point of its temporal unfolding, produces something prodigious: the so called “human being”. It is also said that that being is the “place” where the entire universe contemplates itself. Current state of that narration: in the first version of this article (2013) that narration affirmed that the first modern human being (with body and behaviour equal to ours) would have appeared in the current Ethiopia 195,000 year ago. They are the so-called men of Kibish, discovered in 1967 by Richard Leakey. But, apparently, since 2017 there is another place on the planet (in the known universe) that now has the honor of being our first cradle, our very first outbreak: Jebel Irhoud, in Morocco (315,000 years).

2.- The human being as a genetic sequence. “The human genome”. When exactly does matter begin to be a “human being”? When does it stop being? Is the genetic code the essence of the human? What limits of difference, of deformity, of distancing from the basic model of “human genome”, are admissible in order to continue talking about “human being”?

3. Models of human body. Hatha Yoga: the body as a spiritual shuttle. The Platonic model: body/ bad versus soul/good). The human body and its tension with society. I suggest reading this work: Peter Brown: Body and Society, Columbia University Press, London 1988.

4.- Shakespeare (The Tempest): “We are such stuff as dreams are made on”. We? What is that?

5.- Bible. Corinthians 3, 16-17: Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple”.

6.- Kant. We are citizens of two worlds. One of them is knowable by human beings. The other one is not. And we are destined to fly towards infinity. Towards Philosophy. We can not help it.

7.- Another reading that I consider unavoidable: Max Scheler: Die Stellung des Menschen im Kosmos [The Human Place in the Cosmos]. There is an English translation by Manfred Frings (Northwestern University Press, Evanston 2009).

8.- French structuralists. The end of the human being. Everything is a meta-human structure. [See Levy-Strauss still in Spanish].

9.- Political humanism. Construction and custody of political systems based on the sacralization of the individual human being. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But what happens if a human being is no longer clearly identifiable? I suggest reading this book by Francis Fukuyama [See here still in Spanish]: Our posthuman future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 2002.

10.- I also consider worth reading these two books of Yuval Noah Harari: 1.- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. 2.- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

I share some personal reflections now:

1.- Michel Foucault said [See here still in Spanish] that it is not men who make speeches, but speeches that make men. The goddess Vak said something similar – more than three thousand years ago – in the Rig Veda hymn that inspires my logical ballerinas.

2.- “Human being” is a word. We are not human beings. Poetry [see] -the group of logical dancers who have managed to survive in “our” mind- makes us see ourselves as human beings. Or not. One thing is our essential self (“metalogical”) and another our “logical” self: what we see of ourselves through the linguistic-poetical filter. From what unnameable abyss comes that Poetry that configures, that  bewitches, our look, that Poetry that makes us see ourselves as “human beings”?

3.- As I stated in “Progress” [See here], I believe that the “human being” does not demand a concrete form -not even a specific genome. Human beings might be philosophers capable to love (and dream and make others dream), no matter if adopting the form of centaurs, or of purple clouds, or of a small, never visited lake in Segovia full of magical living beings. This is not a definition of what we are. It is a suggestion of creativity, of poetization, of identification. That what we essentially might be, beyond Poetry, is ineffable. And, lets say it again, Poetry is not “human”: “human” is an outcome of Poetry.

4.- We might say, from the metaphors, always from the metaphors, that we are a shadow, or a “magical nothingness”: something unnamable, unthinkable, imperceptible that (creatively) dreams worlds: that creates/dreams human beings and is able to identify with them. And also to religate to them [See “Religion”]. Or do not religate. The Samkya system: to know that one is not the phenomenal (we are not the “matter” and its forms).

5.- We are not the products of our imagination. But maybe it’s more fascinating to believe we are. 

I do anyway madly love human beings, those mysterious creations. And I cannot help it.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Meditation”

These are, more or less, the thoughts that occur in my mind when I let the logical ballerina “Meditation” dance inside it:

1.- “Meditation” is another word, another logical dancer, and, as such, is constructed from dream-logical, unsayable tissues. According to my own experience, in meditation state you can hear and smell the primeval silence of the dance hall where all the logical dancers yearn to dance.

2.- Meditation allows us to deactivate “temporarily” our entire cosmos. That cosmos hibernates while meditating. Every meditating individual being will return to his sacred dream (his life if you want) and place (interpret) the experience of meditation on the logical shelves that this dream offers: his personal choreography of logical dancers, if you want to put it this way.

3.- Meditation does not last ten minutes, nor an hour. It does not have “duration”. It is a meta-temporal experience because it implies, one might say, a deactivation of that time-constructing psychic machinery described by Kant; among others. Although, truly, meditation is neither an “experience” nor “human”, nor is it, therefore, “meditation” (as an activity that presupposes a subject).

4.- The return. Something that I have been observing for years in me and in other people who have meditated with me is that “the return” amplifies and sublimates the cosmos in which it is experienced, no matter which cosmos. Perhaps because any cosmos is a transparent bubble that, in silence, allows us to see the prodigy within it hovers. After the “return”, anyway, the world (our cosmos) would recover its clean, primeval smell: the smell of dawn on the sleeping land. Simone Weil [See here still in Spanish] put it this way: “Only dis-creating myself can I participate in Creation.” [See “Concept”]. Meditation could perhaps be defined as a process of dying and being reborn in the cosmos in which we died; feeling thus the smell of the first illusion, of the first dream of love.

5.- In “Machine” [See here] I suggest that the human being does not manufacture machines, but lives instead in a machine -a sacred machine- that manufactures machines through him. Everything is artificial. And everything is natural. In meditation state we feel that the force that is directed and controlled by such titanic multi-cosmical machinery is our own, but also that  we are not really “human beings”. There is an “inner” switch to “temporary” deactivate that cosmos-machine in which we live: Meditation. The “exterior switch” would be “Grace” [See here still in Spanish].

6. Kant made an enormous effort in his Critique of Pure Reason in order to mark the limits of human knowledge (of any knowledge indeed). And he drew a kind of island – the island of the knowable- surrounded by a tempestuous ocean, inaccessible to reason but also irresistible to it. It could be said that in meditation state we toss our consciousness into that ocean from the last cliff of our insular mind (and heart). And we return wet. Of water? No. Of ourselves: we are that overwhelming ocean that Kant considered unknowable. And the island might be our own work, made with our own metaphysical entrails.

7.- I think it is also useful to affirm from this cosmos that now spells us (the cosmos from which I write and you read) that the human being does not meditate. In meditation the universal “human being”, that noun, that concept [See “Concept”], that self-spell is deactivated. In meditation state one is not a human being [See “Human being”], nor a “citizen”, nor a “worker”, nor an “entrepreneur”, nor a “liberated woman”, nor a “son of God”, nor a “result of evolution”,  nor “a spot where the universe knows itself “. We might talk about an irruption of what has no essence (omnipotent nothingness) in one of its infinite creations. This last sentence is the most I can say within this dream; within this linguistic machinery. In meditation state you are no longer a “human being” but you have “the feeling” (if you can talk like that) of having finally returned to yourself: of having never been so much yourself.

8.- From a materialist-panmatematist perspective the state of meditation would be a necessary consequence of the interaction of the laws of nature on the Matter of our brain. If so, we should sacralize Mathematics and its capacity for reconfiguration of Matter [See “Matter”]. But meditation implies a deactivation of speeches, of seemingly legalized dreams: and the scientist-materialist discourse is a dream. A very useful dream. All dreams are useful. A clash between discourses on meditation is shown in the following broadcast of the Sternstunde Philosophie program on Swiss television (the presenter is Barbara Bleisch and she interviews Richard Davidson and Theodore Zeldin):

“Alle meditieren. Wer verändert die Welt?” [They all meditate. Who changes the world?]

9.- When dealing with the word “Light” [See here still in Spanish] I share the old feeling and idea that the source of all light (including the source of light that describes the current Physics) is an absolute darkness: there you can not see nor think. It could be said that to meditate means to climb “light up” until the darkness of the first spring. And, once there, to stop being -to be annihilated- in the sacred nothingness that transcends the existence/non-existence dualism. “After” (an “after” without time) we might return to the stream, and flow in it, knowing its source and its ending.

10.- Thanks to meditation we can love our mind: that place of wonders, that wizard’s workshop, that dance room always available for my dear logical dancers. But in order to love our mind we must be able to contemplate it as the one who looks at his sleeping son.

I took the picture that occupies the sky of this text in Gredos mountain range, after meditating.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Concept”.

“Concept”.

Genesis 2.16-17: 

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die”.

Why? Which relationship can be established between knowledge and death?

“Concept”. Knowledge is supposed to be the incorporation of -correct- concepts into the mind of the knower. How can that possibly kill?

In order to convey what happens in my mind when the logical ballerina, the word, “concept” dances inside it I will use its equivalent in the German language: “Begriff“. This noun is related to the verb “begreiffen“, which is synonymous of “umfassen“. Some of the meanings of this last word are, translated into English: “catch”, or “grip”. I think that concepts are captures. Actually it is the concept (tree, or sea, or God, or state, or whatever) what captures the mind; and not the mind, through the concept, what captures reality. And not only does the concept capture the mind, but it shapes it, creates it… Actually “mind” is a concept … and a word (“concept” is also a simple word … as it is, on the other hand, the word “word”). [See “Concept”].

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of wisdom, they lost paradise. They lost it because their eyes were taken/captured by concepts (knowledge … in-formation).

Within the current materialistic-brain-paradigm we could say that the brains of Adam and Eve, after ingesting the fruit of the tree of science, lost plasticity: that their neural paths were set according to standardized, robotic ways; and that, since then, they might only be able to see what their psychic-conceptual machinery allowed them to see.

I allow myself to suggest the reading of the critic I made of an interesting work by Jesús Mosterín entitled Human culture [See here in Spanish]. I reproduce here, however, some paragraphs that can be useful to show what I intend to convey (the quotation marks indicate that I am reproducing the phrases of Jesús Mosterín):

“The anatomical and functional structure of the brain is determined by genes in all their general features and details, but a large part of the neural connections of the brain are formed throughout our lives, as a result of our perceptions and other interactions with our environment, including those that occur with other congeners, especially with our mother and other relatives during our early childhood. This ability to establish new neural connections is called cerebral plasticity. The cerebral plasticity is maximum during our childhood and decreases from puberty. The brain of the adult is more consolidated and is less plastic than the one of the child.”

And memory, in that of fixing a culture in our brain, will apparently play a decisive roll. Let’s continue listening to Jesús Mosterin:

“The consolidation of information in the operating memory leads to the establishment of permanent neuronal circuits by strengthening the synapses between the neurons that compose them. This is carried out through the activation of certain genes and the synthesis of new proteins such as actin, which induce permanent structural changes in the morphology of the neuron and its cytoskeleton, especially the enlargement of dendritic spines present on the creation of new spines. When stimulated by learning, small spines enlarge, which in turn makes them lose plasticity and makes them the lasting structural support of long-term memory […] Culture is part of the information retained in long term memory.”

We have just been told that the more culture in the brain (that is: more in-formation retained in the long term), the less brain plasticity: the lesser capacity to establish new neuronal connections.

Vivekananda made lucid contributions to the second Yoga-sutra of Patanjali; the one that says: “Yoga is the control of the mind (chitta) so that it does not adopt forms (writtis).” Writtis are universes, convulsions of the lake of our mind that avert seeing its mighty, sacred bottom.

Let’s go back to the biblical paradise. How can we return to paradise? How to get rid of our knowledge? Of which knowledge specifically? How to access non-knowledge?

There would be, at least, one form to achieve that meta-logical (paradisiac) state: meditation (which, by the way, sometimes breaks out involuntarily). [See “Meditation”].

But what can we see then without our virtual-reality glasses of our concepts?

A likely answer (limited by the language that unites us) might be: we see ourselves. And we see us as a magic nothing. And that image overcomes any possible configuration of any mind (any universe) … because it encompasses them all. It includes all the beauties, all the magical ballerinas, which are indeed concepts, possibilities of form, that yearn to live, that yearn to dance, in the immensity of our mind.

One – just one – of those dancers is the one that jumped from the Tree of Science to the brains of Adam and Eve. I imagine white the matter [See “Matter”] of that tree of Eden, white, identical to the colour  of the stars, white as it appears in the photo that shines in the sky of this text (of this tissue of words/concepts).

Concept. Comprehension. Many salvation-products focus one the comprehension. They use to say: ”When you comprehend…” I suspect that “comprehension” literally means “compression”.

Following somehow Novalis’ and Gilles Deleuze’s [See here in Spanish] visions, the core philosophical challenge might be to create concepts, virtual-reality glasses, fascinating enough so as to trigger in human beings an unlimited and unstoppable love towards the existence, the existence beyond that sacred nothingness which is their real being. But also to urge them not to forget that real being. Two simultaneous tasks.

Now I would like to suggest the possibility of looking at “that” what we look and reduce with the concept “sea” or “tree” in another way, in a free way: in cosmical silence. Believe me: if you do it, it shows its  transparent, unsayable flesh, it shines more than any possible concept. 

But we need concepts and we will always do. They are magic! And life is nothing but magic.  So: Is there anybody there who dares to create a new concept  for that “thing” we now see and think and feel as “sea”? He might also create, or deeply modify, the cosmological structure (the structure of concepts and relationships among them, the cosmical Lego) that make posible the very existence of the see or the tree. We should, anyway, never forget that “concept” is also a concept, a logical ballerina that somehow forces us to dance with her.

Lastly: Is it worth changing the magic of the tree or the sea, even though we know they are artificial forms? Well, I wouldn’t change those two concepts. I truly love what I see though them.

David López

The logical ballerinas: “Matter”


“Matter”.

Another logical ballerina. Just a word. “Matter” is only -only?- a word.

And that word comes from the Greek hyle: a symbol that allows us to transmit a model of mind, a concept: something like the one we feel with the symbol “cut wood” or, also, “raw material with which to do anything”. In Latin the symbol is materia, and the concept associated with it would be something like “wood for any type of construction”.

And what is built with matter? The world? The whole reality? Can the matter itself be constructed with something even more esencial? Is the world a sum of material bodies (molecules, atoms, electrons, quarks…) that are enslaved to some eternal, never changing physical laws?

What is a dream made of? I mean, for example, a kiss on the lips of a beloved woman, a kiss wanted, desired, dreamt years ago. Is that kiss – and the hearts and fantasies in it intertwined – constituted by dead atoms subjected to physical laws as implacable and dead as numbers written with chalk on a blackboard?

Why do most models of reality feel dread towards freedom and creativity? Well, some of them do only consider possible the freedom and the creativity of human beings.

What is the matter of our dreams made of?

Some years ago I had this dream: I was walking down the staircase of the apartment building where  I lived until I was nine years old. On that staircase there was a window from which a garden could be seen. Suddenly I knew that I was actually dreaming, that I was inside my own artificial reality and that, therefore, I could build whatever I wanted within the unlimited matter of my mind.

I just wanted to fly. And, flying, I was able to reach the branches of one of the trees. Once there I spent a good while touching with my irreal fingers the dreamlike surface of that vegetable/dreamed entity that was being softly moved by a very real and mysterious  breeze.

The point is that I was able to touch the matter of dreams. It was one of the most extreme and sublime experiences I can remember from this level of consciousness. The matter of dreams/the matter of the real universe. Is there a difference? Shakespeare wrote what follows in the first scene of the fourth act of The Tempest:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

One may ask: Who -or What- sleeps in that sleep that envelops all lives? And, above all, is that dreamer a creator? Are dreams outcomes of a conscious creative effort?  Is it possible to freely configure matter or is it eternally subject to unconscious, but also omnipotent laws that determine all possible configurations of matter?

“Matter”. Before presenting my ideas / sensations, I would like to suggest the study of the following subjects:

1.- The Arche in ancient Greek Philosophy: What is everything made of? Hylozoism: Thales of Miletus (matter is alive; and all is full of gods).

2.- Matter in Aristotle: that out of which something is made.

3.- Neoplatonist philosophers (Plotinus, Proclus, Simplicius of Cilicia and Iamblichus): matter as pure receptacle without qualities or measure. I recommend once again the Philosophy Dictionary of José Ferrater Mora, now specifically his article “Materia”. It is written in Spanish, and, unfortunately,  not yet translated into English.

4.- Matter according to scientist thinking and to magical thinking (enslaved matter versus free matter).

5.- Dualists. Matter is Evil. Matter in Samkya metaphysics: suffering and slavery derive from identifying with the psychic-mental experience (prakriti or matter).The Charvakas of ancient India: matter is the only reality; and its great. Descartes´ dualism: body and mind as different realities.

6.- Matter in current Physics. The definition of Matter by CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire): “All ordinary matter in today’s universe is made up of atoms. Each atom contains a nucleus composed of protons and neutrons (except hydrogen, which has no neutrons), surrounded by a cloud of electrons. Protons and neutrons are in turn made of quarks bound together by other particles called gluons. No quark has ever been observed in isolation: the quarks, as well as the gluons, seem to be bound permanently together and confined inside composite particles, such as protons and neutrons”. The quark-gluon plasma. A.L.I.C.E.

I proceed now to share some personal philosophical sketches caused by the dance in my mind of the logical ballerina “Matter”:

1 .- First of all I think it might be useful to differentiate between matter as formless “mass” with potential to adopt any form (something that for the Neoplatonists was a receptacle without measures or qualities) and matter as “what fills the space”, or “set of physical bodies” , or “density variations in a unified field”, etc. The first conception of “matter” suggests a kind of “nothing” able, and ready, to be anything. The second is a legalized, enslaved something. I see more life (more truth) in the first concept of matter.

2.- If matter is such in-formable mass, we could imagine a prodigious “mass” that might had, at the same time, infinite potentiality (infinite capacity to adopt forms, to be a natura naturata) and infinite creative power (natura naturans). That prodigious “mass” may be called “God” (the metalogical God: being essentially formless) because it might be able to build any world (any form) with and within  Himself.

3.- I believe that the terms Matter, Maya and Magic might share the same ontological meaning: they name the essence of the show that is presented before our consciousness. And in that show our thoughts and our own psychical and optical self (what appears on the mirrors, what we see in the photos, the parts of our body we can see from the position of our eyes…) should be included. I agree with Schopenhauer that we are the secret directors of the theatre plays of our lives.

4.- According to the above I consider myself a materialist. Why not? I love the matter. A lot. I love the texture -sometimes fierce, terrible- of this prodigious dream. My rejection of materialism, let’s say, dualist materialism (the one that distinguishes between matter and spirit) derives from its contempt for the worlds and, over, for its contempt for the real, “imperfect” human beings.

5.- In a meditative state we can experience something that I would like to call “pure matter”. In such state, the experienced “nothing” [See “Nothing” still in Spanish] seems to be able of configuring itself in any imagined world: any Creation might occur in such prodigious Nothingness.

I return now to that dream in which I could touch the branches of a, lets say metaphysical, tree. What did I really feel while caressing that dreamlike vegetable, while breathing the air and light of “my” own imagination?

I felt astounded and amazed: feelings that -very powerfully- trigger Philosophy.

David López