The title should be mostly accurate, minor a slight subversion on the concept of “unreality”. This is an attempt at charting the consequences of Bakker’s Blind Brain Theory, so the hope is that everything I write is an abstraction of what’s entirely possible within the grasp of Science. Hence, for Unreality I do not mean the “impossible”, but the illusory experience that is the “human condition”. In the distinction body/mind (that BBT sets out to remove) is present the distinction between physical world (body) and metaphysics (mind or soul).

Look at this image:

This represents the “environment”. For environment I intend everything that pertains to “Reality”. It includes the planets, the starts, as well as all the laws regulating the behavior of it all, and down to physical objects like a rock or a table. All “environment”, all within the domain of Science. You can see this line in the image as oddly shaped. This because every “object” that we can distinguish in reality has a different configuration, or structure. A table and a rock are both environment, just differently organized, and so abstracted in the image as the line having a different shape.

The first may be the abstract representation of environment configured as a rock, and the second as a table. Now look at this image:

What you see there is instead the abstract pattern that represents a “man”, a single human being. From the perspective of the environment this different shape is no different from everything else: it’s still environment. It has a different configuration than the rock or the table, but it isn’t “special”, or qualitatively different. Just peculiar because that shape specifically defines a “man” instead of something else, and so can be distinguished.

With the course of evolution, and the emergence of complexity, this happens:

The man develops observing capabilities. We can still assume he’s still completely passive, but he can now observe the environment, and so understand it, making distinctions between the various configurations the environment can take. By turning observation on himself, he can also make the distinction between himself and the environment (becoming a system, distinct from environment). From the point of view of the environment, that barrier dividing the man from the rest of the environment simply does not exist, but from the point of view of the man, having observation and now a sense of “self” distinct from everything else, that barrier is real. It’s the barrier giving the man his individuality and so also his personal needs and desires. From that point onward the man acquires knowledge so that he can use the rest of the environment he’s observing for his own end and personal advantage.

Consider this:

The one on the left is the general idea we all normally embrace, and that is also subscribed by science. It simply means there’s a Reality, that here I call “Nature”, and within Reality human beings exist. Part of it. One element within the bigger set representing all of Nature.

But from the perspective of the man I described above, the way a human being “feels” and lives in the world is better represented by the image on the right. The man exists within a separate dimension, existing out of Nature, and actually in contrast with it. Man and Nature are constantly at war, one against the other. A human being would not survive in Reality, it’s not a natural habitat, and so men create a protective cocoon, an artificial dimension meant to become an “heaven”, where men can survive. A safer space. We can call this “egg” as Culture. Culture, and language, is the dimension within which human consciousness lives and manages to survives. It provides sense and meaning, it provides values and morals. It creates a vision of the world that is tolerable.

Yet we still know that this vision is just an artificial construction, and that the scheme that more accurately describes Reality is the one on the left: men as one element within the bigger set of Nature. This already reproduces the problem of Dualism: the point of view of the environment, versus the point of view of man (or man as consciousness).

Now let’s get to the problem of God. Science is compatible with the idea of God as the First Mover. As long god doesn’t interfere with Reality, and so as long the system of reality is CLOSED, then this view is compatible with Science. Science can only deal with observable reality, and so only opposes the idea of metaphysical intervention /within/ the closed system. It can’t exclude powers or dimensions existing outside our perception and outside Reality.

So let’s assume that there’s an external entity to Reality, our god. He created the System of the World, but from the moment it was created (the Big Bang) this system becomes “sealed”, and so completely closed. From this point onward the god can’t modify anything anymore and can’t meddle with what happens within this system. The god can only “observe” what happens within it.

What I’ve just described is a deterministic system. Everything in this system simply happens accordingly the law of Reality as they were defined from the beginning. From that point onward it’s only about a cascade of effects. This means that from the perspective of our god, given any point in the timeline of this universe and, knowing every element of the system and every law, the god can predict EVERYTHING that happens in the future (of that point) and EVERYTHING that happened in the past. It’s the same as taking an arbitrary point of a movie and that move forward or backwards. Since the movie is a finite thing you are going to see always the same thing, it doesn’t get to “change”. If at some point in the movie a car turn left, it will always turn left no matter how many times you rewind and replay the scene. And since the System of the World was created by the god as closed, then everything that happens is deterministic, and so can be directly deduced as long you know every element and every law within.

Now let’s assume, as I was doing at the beginning, that one of the particles in this system, a human being, acquires observing capabilities. This is our element:

I’m abstracting to get to the point. This particle represents a human being. He can observe the environment, he can self-observe, and he always, constantly moves “East” as long he stays alive.

During the course of his life this man, since he can observe, has made his own idea why he’s going East. He thinks that moving east is his own choice. Maybe there are all sort of ugly people around him and he said: “what the hell, I’m going East.” Where there are less ugly people. Now let’s say that at some point this man has a big revelation. He finds the Blind Brain Theory and suddenly realizes that he’s not moving east for the reasons he thought, but simply because he’s a particle whose purpose and obligatory need is to “move east”. His nature.

Here’s the PARADIGM SHIFT. He decides to turn and go North:

If our particle suddenly decides to stop going East and go North, after it got the revelation of its true condition, then two, and only two, scenarios open:

1- A formal violation happens. The system of Reality that was supposed to be closed, is not. Because a particle within the system, by gaining consciousness and making a different choice as consequence of the information it acquired, “exited” the system and then re-entered influencing it. It’s like this particle was able to communicate with the external entity called god (so information not originally part of the system) and bring back that information into the system. Producing a change.

2- We are just observing the perpetuation of the illusion. It’s the system that was meant to make the particle go north at some point during the course of its life. The system is still closed, everything still moves accordingly to the original plan. What appeared to be as “change”, or a novel behavior, was only novel for the norm. But it was still caused by the natural law governing this system, in the exact way they were set in motion when the system was sealed.

Let’s assume that (2) describes exactly Reality and that (1) is completely speculative and implausible. This means that a Blind Brain Theory won’t free human beings of their limited perspective. No amount of (accurate) knowledge gives a man a true control on Reality. The closed perspective we’re trapped in can’t be betrayed or breached. Our knowledge can aspire to reach the knowledge that the hypothesized external entity I called god might posses. But it’s still information in this system that belongs to the system. It can never ACT on the system itself to change it, because this would mean the system isn’t closed anymore. That there was a breach. No amount of self-awareness can free one of the Determinism within a system, because that self-awareness is simply an iteration of the Determinism of that system. More of the same.

That’s the point of my counter-argument to BBT. If we have no way to escape our closed perspective, then paradoxically our perspective acquires legitimation. Even if we are able to imagine the other perspective, and assume it “true”, it still can’t change the way we are and feel. We can swap one dream world for another, but we can’t get free even if we are aware of the illusion.

Can then human beings be blamed if they decide to live solely in their fictional bubble, in their artificial and illusory Eden?

9 Comments

  1. I think the lack of distinction between environment and environment that we call a man causes a problem with discussion, because it stretches self awareness to knowing the entirety of the sealed system! Absolutely every atom!

    However, take the old ‘lamps, not ladies’ post from TPB. If we don’t try and stretch the required self awareness to the entire sealed system and instead down to a local scale, what if were reacting to something that is not there? In fact not even just reducing it to local scale, but to far less than precise knowledge of what’s happening in that local area than an atom level of knowledge. A low resolution view. In the low rez view, what if were seeing a lady where there is only a lamp?

    Granted at a deterministic level, what will happen will still happen. But in some ways though you’ve said some things I’ve thought myself – that without an absolute grasp of every atom in the sealed system, you are always left with an amount of ignorance – and within that forced ignorance of others, a kind of freedom.

    At the low rez view, the one forced upon anyone inside the sealed system to some degree, there is some of this freedom for something like a BBT to affect ones life, in regards to misspercieved lamps.

    One has the freedom to drop a certain amount of dream world (in as much as I am ignorant of whether, causally, you are absolutely boned and stuck thinking you can’t or whether the various interactions will lead to another tangent). Since that freedom is based on ignorances amongst people, it’s more of a capacity to drop more dream world than the other fella.

    • One has the freedom to drop a certain amount of dream world (in as much as I am ignorant of whether, causally, you are absolutely boned and stuck thinking you can’t or whether the various interactions will lead to another tangent). Since that freedom is based on ignorances amongst people, it’s more of a capacity to drop more dream world than the other fella.

      This happens, but this battle for supremacy is not a novel phenomenon. It’s still environment organized differently. You are MEANT to gain that advantage. You don’t have control on the system any more than two robots where one has a better program. The scene goes always the same way.

      So what you are describing as “freedom” is not true freedom: the power to impose real change and make a difference. You’re still a slave of the process, so no freedom at all.

      What do you “see” instead, the slight advantage of one versus the other, is simply a closed perspective versus another closed perspective.

      For the external god that watches your battle versus someone else, the both of you aren’t qualitatively different or one more free than the other. But for the closed perspective you are locked in, and the one of your enemy, that difference of power is real.

      Since awareness of a true lack of freedom doesn’t grant you that freedom, then it means that for your subjective perspective what you see is authoritative. It always matters. Your “free will” always matters for yourself because it’s still the measure of what you do when you’re following the deterministic plan. But “willing” IS what you do when you follow the plan, so you can’t subtract yourself from doing it the way you do it.

  2. Why am I MEANT to gain the advantage? Where’s that come from?

    I think I gave several caveats when I refered to ‘freedom’ – I think I’ve hardly refered to some kind of ‘true’ freedom when I’ve applied caveats to my use of the word.

    I’m not sure you’re getting what I mean – you say I’m a slave of the process? Okay, slave to who? To what thing that is also in the sealed system? Anything inside the sealed system is subject to determinism and ignorance of the overall state of the system.

    I would think our discussion is interpersonal (or atleast inter super computeral!!). I’m not sure why your raising a slave master who is either absent the system, or will become slave to it if they are in the system?

    Maybe I’m being dumbly practical, but I’d think the subject is dealing with other people, not talking about somehow dealing with a slave master who is entire absent the system?

    If you want to talk about facing off with the slave master, okay I agree, no freedom.

    But why, when I talk about dealing with my fellow inmates, who have plenty of ignorance (as do I), you wont engage my idea of freedom gained from ignorance?

    I suspect your trying to say that knowing about BBT wont help you any in a face off against the slave master so what’s the point of engaging it?

    • Slave to the rules of the system, the cascading of effects.

      Instead of you making a free choice, you’re just herded around by all that precedes your decision, so your decision is merely the product that everything that comes before.

      There is no slave master in a closed system beside whoever can manage to be outside it. In order to change something in the system, you need to introduce something new within it. If you are within and the system is closed, then you have no way to produce a change, however slight.

      You have more “freedom” from your illusory perspective. You can use an advantage to kill someone else. But this isn’t different than a rock falling because of gravity.

  3. The idea being that various corporate (and perhaps political entities) may eventually use theory based on a fairly clueless brain in order to advantage themselves. Even if that is a ‘freedom from an illusory perspective’ for them – when they use this illusory freedom to throw your sister in the friendship gulag (with adoring support from a manipulated public), I’m suspecting you’re not about to go ‘Well, none of this knowledge I have about their manipulative ways lets me break free of the rules of the causal system – therefore such knowledge is worthless and therefore I will do nothing about my sisters plight’

    • That was my point at the end of my post where I said “it doesn’t matter”.

      For “you” the perspective is always closed. You can’t stop your idea of “free will”, and can’t stop deciding what you do.

      The point is: no amount of good theory can free you of this closed perspective. You don’t get to “not to act” as response to what you just learned.

      “I will do nothing about my sisters’ plight” is not something you can do. It’s not something that you’d do as consequence of what I said. You WILL do something because you are slave to the rules that want you do something. You just don’t get even the slight possibility of doing something different than what you’re programmed to do (including if you’re a weirdo and do nothing instead).

      So, if all types of information you can acquire simply won’t budge your position, this means that, whether you want it or not, you are FORCED to live the way you always live: with your own sense of will and choice. You don’t get to DROP your sense of will and choice, that what I was saying to Bakker. It can’t happen.

      That specific sense of will is only invalidated if you acquire an external point of view. But, and here’s the real point: you can only theoretically hypothesize this external point, but not acquire it.

      The bottom line is that everything that matters for you, REALLY matters. Because you are your perspective. You simply can’ subtract yourself from it or escape it.

  4. “I will do nothing about my sisters’ plight” is not something you can do. It’s not something that you’d do as consequence of what I said.

    I think here’s the problem – what you said is very much inside the system. It almost seems like you’re treating what you said as if its outside the system, or that the BBT texts are outside the system.

    Why do you think that what you said is consequenceless?

    I think you’re treating your own grasp of things as absolute. As if no new perception could be uncovered for you.

    If someones is born with a pair of blinkers attached to the sides of their head, actually the HBT (horse blinker theory) might have them take it off their head and gain some peripheral vision.

    Depends if one is saying it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t show the whole universe and using that as a reason to meanwhile hold onto those blinkers, while everyone else is taking off theirs.

    • It’s not “me”. Bakker wants BBT as something that describes consciousness from the outside, so that the dualism is erased.

      BBT in his own idea works if it gives this new perspective.

      I’m simply saying that no amount of knowledge, including BBT, can allow someone to exit the limited perspective.

      You can indeed swap different knowledge-boxes. Where one might be bigger than another. They all repeat the same pattern, though, and don’t give you any real freedom beside the illusory one you feel.

      So BBT makes a practical difference from your specific point of view, but it doesn’t offer any different type of freedom. Just another phase of evolution, if you want.

  5. As I said, I’m not sure that gets into talking about the horse blinker theory.


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