Sunday, 4 December 2011

The sick or the sage?

Time does matter,
If you were born some 900 years ago, you could have become a saint or a master have you had visions (and an exotic lifestyle).
If you were born last century(ish), you would be considered schizophrenic have you had visions (and the exotic lifestyle could even worsen things for you).

I was just reading Ibn Arabi's biography, and without any disrespect meant, I was wondering what would have happened to him if he were born in our time. Perhaps lots of pills and mental hospital! Good for him!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Lights are on. Obviously someone is home. but could she get the door open?

There’s a concept in psychology, called “Automaticity” which is defined as the ability to do things automatically and without occupying the conscious mind. An action or behavior becomes automatic by learning, practicing and habituating. By this definition, one might think that, okay; this “Automaticity” only takes a fraction of our daily actions, meaning that we are conscious the rest of the time, but is it really so?

Automaticity has also been considered as the "lack of awareness in mental processes" in some texts. In that sense, three ways have been identified in which we may be unaware of a mental process: 1) we may be unaware of the presence of a stimulus (e.g., subliminal priming, like in hypnosis). 2) We may be unaware of the way in which a stimulus has been interpreted or categorized(for e.g due to some unconscious beliefs). 3) We may be unaware of factors that influence our behavior(like environmental or physiological factors).

There have been quite a few studies on the subject (on priming mostly in the studies I saw), a few of which are done by Bargh which led him to, in the extreme case, claim that:

“I emphatically push the point that automatic, nonconscious processes pervade all aspects of mental and social life, in order to overcome what I consider dominant, even implicit, assumptions to the contrary.”

Then he was criticized that he might have overestimated the role of automatic processes in the social interactions, which led him to revise his statement as follows:

“Bloodied but unbowed, I gamely concede that the commentators did push me back from a position of 100% automaticity but only to an Ivory soap bar degree of purity in my beliefs about the degree of automaticity in our psychological reactions from moment to moment.”

He implies that social cognition and behavior is 99.44% automatic.
I also found the quote from Malcom Gladwell's book "Blink"(I haven't read the book though, only saw the quote in some paper) worth noting here:

"The adaptive unconscious is not to be confused with the unconscious described by Sigmund Freud, which was a dark and murky place filled with desires and memories and fantasies that were too disturbing for us to think about consciously. This new notion of the adaptive unconscious is thought of, instead, as a kind of giant computer that quickly and quietly processes a lot of data we need in order to keep functioning as human beings.”

What it means is that, not only do we need function unconsciously in order to do most of our everyday actions efficienlty, it might have even slowed us down if we were to do otherwise. We might think we are conscious (I sure do) while doing things, but it doesn’t mean that our being conscious leads to our doing whatever we are doing in the right manner.

I’m very much tempted to relate this to the issue of “free will” and I’ve seen the hints and comments in some papers to this area as well (so it’s not only me). But the subject by itself requires a great deal of pondering. If this is true, it might even prove that mental states are only epiphenomenal, i.e. consciousness doesn’t play a causal role and is only a by-product of the brain states.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

the gist of it all

Fallen into existence,
forced into be,
c'est la vie.

By my dear friend, Sofy

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Thinner than air it might be, but how long could you live without it?

Isn't it a fact that , wherever there is communication, in any form of it, there exists some sort of meaning?
Well, my thoughts, for a rather long while were focused on "meaning".On What it is, I mean, what is its essence? How does it emerge? And how would it feel without it?
I could only briefly understand the answer to the last question, which is not even communicable(and I believe it's not imaginable even if I could somehow explain it).
Anyhow, it didn't stop there. I was recently watching some TV show, in which some people healed patients with some severe diseases. I'd also seen in person (years ago) some sufis' self-mutilation without any further marks on their bodies. It might seem irrelevant at first, but it left me dazed for a long time, that how could it be, that doing the same thing causes me bleed and even die, but for them, it doesn't create even a slight sign of disturbance.

Now, I don't know if it's an established theory or an obvious fact, but it came to my notice only recently, that maybe, meaning is not exclusive to human beings. it comes in different levels, and defined for every group of species(different forms of life) probably different from each other. Animals, plants (also I've read about some studies regarding plants understanding emotions, which again, is a level of communication) and even cells,  communicate it at some level.
Then the sufi, in a way(even unconsciously) might be capable of communicating with the sub-parts of his body, namely the cells and could interact with them in a way we, normal people, can't. And so does the healer.

Monday, 12 September 2011

between jumping constantly and standing at one place, would you like to sit and think for a while?

There's a conflict between society and rebel in that, one cannot exist in the existence of the other. I use "rebel" here, not just as an act against the government, but against the norms and rules in general (and in a more detailed sense, an act even against one's own belief system).
I believe most of people know why it's widely prohibited. The question is, why should we be, and why aren't we rebellious enough?
Now, I was going to list some answers to these two questions.. but it came out a little too prescriptive, which was against the intention of this post. so I leave this to the individual's judgement to find out how being rebellious might be helpful.
As for my own judgement, I said rebel could be an act against the belief system of the individual. what I meant was, even though I deeply believe that having integrity and not changing mind easily are good qualities (and there's no conflict here if it's clear enough), questioning one's beliefs and really questioning them is also an act of rebel which we are usually disinclined to do. For example, a theist, an atheist or even an agnostic, probably believe they are right in their own judgement about God, and all have some sort of explanation for their beliefs; or someone who's never done drugs, might think he knows well enough what the pitfalls of using drugs are and that's good enough reason not to try it. A rebel, on the other hand, doesn't make statements like this. To him, life is a lab and one should experiment and experience the opposing sides in order to get a result and a subsequent judgement.

Krishnamurti, believes in a more radical form of rebel, in which having beliefs is contradictory to being a rebel:

"... an intelligent mind is a mind which is not satisfied
with explanations, with conclusions; nor is it a mind that believes, because belief is again another form of conclusion. An  intelligent mind is an inquiring mind, a mind that is watching, learning, studying. Which means what? That there is intelligence only when there is no fear,  when you are willing to rebel, to go
against the whole social structure in order to find out what God is, or to discover the truth of anything."

It might be very difficult(if not impossible) not to have some sort of belief system, in that , we need an evaluating system to be able to interact with our environment. I guess his point is that, remaining flexible and open is a feature of the rebel.
But the question is, for most of us(since societies survive better than rebels), is it that our answers are satisfactory enough that we don't want to give them up, or is it that it's easier and safer for us to stick to them instead of periodically revising ourselves?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

To lie, or not to lie

Over the past week I was mentally occupied by questions about different aspects of dishonesty. I first had a hypothesis that long-term dishonest behavior may cause memory decline, but since I couldn't find any data to support or to refute it, I left it at that.
While googling for the question above, I ran into another, rather interesting paper on neural activity associated with honest and dishonest decision making. The research was based on two hypotheses. According to one, honesty results from the active resistance of temptation, while the other one states that honesty results from the absence of temptation. The results of this research supported the second hypothesis, that honest people don't show any additional control-related activity when choosing to behave honestly. In contrast, individuals who behaved dishonestly exhibited increased activity in control-related regions of prefrontal cortex, both when choosing to behave dishonestly and on occasions when they refrained from dishonesty.
After discussing this last matter with a friend last night, we concluded that, even if one who engages in dishonest behavior habitually, once decides to behave honestly, his brain activity might not change radically, and in order to change that neural activity to an honest one, one needs to practice to be honest to change the synaptic behavior over time.
This was of my concern mainly because, I was born into a culture in which dishonesty, in the form of giving compliments is a value. and this makes, me, individually, a dishonest person by neural definitions. Now, I don't consider myself dishonest, but the fact that I actively resist the temptation of lying suggests that I am. So, is confessing that I'm a liar a starting point for changing my synaptic behavior?

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hypothetical happiness gadget!

From the second half of the last century, there has been a trend toward human perfectionism. There have been movements such as "Transhumanism" and emerging sciences such as "Cognitive Science". The goal of Transhumanism is to enhance human intellectual, physical, psychological capacities among other thing. In short, its goal is to transform man into superman. One goal of CogSci is to understand the mind and its processes, and answer questions such as, how does brain shape mind?what are the neural correlates of  mental processes? how can we model these processes?
Other sciences, and other movements are still on, but the focus on the inside is now more intense. We have learned a lot about our surroundings. But that's not the case I'm intending to discuss. A reason for the recent interest in the inner, mental life, is that we have understood, no matter how much we learn about the outside, and invent different tools and machines to do our work and facilitate our lives, we are not necessarily happier.
Now, Transhumanism can help us live a longer, healthier and a more improved life. Still, it doesn't guarantee our happiness. This is when CogSci comes in handy. It's not very unrealistic to imagine a day when we find the neural correlates of happiness in the brain and can become happy just by pushing a button(or even just by wanting it). A perfect body, longer life, higher IQ, and happiness altogether. Seems ideal!
Now, the question is..that even if we have the option to consciously make ourselves happy, would we be happy? There is a conflict between happiness and being aware of it, i.e. once you think about it, it disappears. Now, how can you consciously decide to be happy and be happy?
The other question is that, even if there isn't a conflict, knowing that the reason we are feeling happy is pushing a button or choosing an option, would we still feel happy, what I mean is that, could happiness arise simply out of neural activity?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

implicature or presupposition?

Doesn't "You are smart" presuppsose the speaker's smartness?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011


Who is filled with harmony is like a newborn.
Wasps and snakes will not bite him;
Hawks and tigers will not claw him.

His bones are soft yet his grasp is sure,
For his flesh is supple;
His mind is innocent yet his body is virile,
For his vigour is plentiful;
His song is long-lasting yet his voice is sweet,
For his grace is perfect.

But knowing harmony creates abstraction,
And following abstraction creates ritual.
Exceeding nature creates calamity,
And controlling nature creates violence.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

My death is so gay(*uncollocated for you)

My death is a guy
Goodlooking and hot
Desirable and what-not
I've had a crush on him for long
Yet he doesn't look, nor does he care!
He's so gay
He's so gay
I follow him..he runs away
I look at him..he turns away
He's so gay
He's so gay
He's so gay
I want him so bad ..tonight and right now!right away..In the bed..while sleep..even awake..whatever he says.. However he wants..but he's not here..never comes too close!
Isn't he so gay?!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Free will or will free?!

I'd heard that "Ignorance is bliss" before, never realized it in the context though.
Too bad, only the abstract was available. But it'd give you a general idea of the what is being talked about.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

This happens without an exception...that whenever I have exams, I feel like doing something other than studying..!(a.k.a Mental Organization, a.k.a Levels of description, or levels of conception.)

Have you ever noticed that you can consider a concept, from different levels, and it's not the same thing as having different P.O.Vs!?
Yes, as you can move around an object and change your perspective on it, use a magnifier or a microscope and watch it in a more detailed view or move away and look at it as a whole, you also can do all this with a concept (in a more mental way).
I was reading this article by Sam Harris about Free will being an illusion and it seemed so right to me. Yet, in his next article regarding the same subject, he mentioned that so many people disagreed with his opinion and even got angry about it and wanted to opt out of his mailing list because of that post!! And it made me wonder.. why something so obvious for one is so difficult to perceive for others?! On one hand, it is the different  P.O.Vs. but in this case, his account of his P.O.V. was perfectly clear and justifiable . It was something else and it brought me to this, that they see things in different zooms. For them, what he says seems unclear, even different from what they see, like a picture being zoomed-in so much that it couldn't be perceived as a whole or vica versa.

I'm asking you, if not too much trouble, whenever you are thinking of a ..rather fundamental concept, try different levels of description, as well as different P.O.V.s. You might find your beliefs more liquidy! You might also find new insights that would be hidden to you otherwise. (And try reading these two articles if you believe in any version of free will, or otherwise, without a pre-adjusted lens. You might find it interesting!)

Thursday, 19 May 2011


After spending some time  on introspection today, I figured out something..obvious as it might seem, I never noticed it consciously!
I can want anything! That's a fact, right? The feeling of wanting can be assigned to anything but one thing, and that is itself, I can't want to "want something".
I can force myself into accepting things ..or to pretend to want something..but the feeling of "wanting" doesn't come along with itself! "I can't want to want"! It's simple, either I want something or I don't, now I might be able to repress myself from wanting something..that's at least possible! But it's much more difficult, if not impossible,the other way around!

Monday, 24 January 2011

this is old.. I wrote it long ago..

I was browsing in wikipedia again.. looking for the definition of "lie" and I found this:
"A lie is an untruthful statement made to someone else with the intention to deceive. To lie is to say something one believes to be false with the intention that it be taken for the truth by someone else.
A lie involves the use of conventional truthbearers, (i.e., statements in words or symbols) and not natural signs. Intentional deceit involving natural signs, such as wearing a wig, shamming a limp, or wearing a fake arm cast, is not usually classed as "lying", but as "deception".
A true statement may be a lie. If the person who makes the true statement genuinely believes it to be false, and makes the statement with the intention that his audience believe it to be true, then this is a lie (see Jean-Paul Sartre, Le Mur (1937)). When a person lies he or she necessarily is untruthful, but he or she is not necessarily making an untrue statement."

I think There's a 3rd way to it ,that you neither lie nor tell the truth. I wonder how would Sartre and others  explain something like that. I don't know why , but most of people tend to give Lie a larger definition than truth. But if we begin to look fuzzy, this kind of statement is merely ambiguous, and it's up to the recipient to disambiguate it.

Nevertheless, to me.. lie is deformed , ambiguity is polymorphic, and truth is always well-shaped, even in its ugliest form!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Lost inside..

Men flow into life, and ebb into death.

Some are filled with life;
Some are empty with death;
Some hold fast to life, and thereby perish,
For life is an abstraction.

Those who are filled with life
Need not fear tigers and rhinos in the wilds,
Nor wear armour and shields in battle;
The rhinoceros finds no place in them for its horn,
The tiger no place for its claw,
The soldier no place for a weapon,
For death finds no place in them.
somewhere inside..I guess I'm filled with life.. but I'm lost ..inside! 
looking for some answers...
looking...for some help

Sunday, 16 January 2011

127 hours

I watched this movie three times in the past couple of days,even though I had maths final exam yesterday and I have syntax tomorrow (I'm a student of Computational linguistics btw,in case you were wondering!)
I'm an amateur boulderer, but this movie motivated me to do it more professionally! I hurt my knee on a wall about two years ago.. and it's not completely fixed yet.. but what the hell?! I'm not gonna live that long anyways!

Monday, 10 January 2011

If I could only share this feeling..

I have this dream of a morning, waking up to a bright, sunny day, when everywhere is covered with snow, and the sun makes it seem so shiny, and happy!it's very cold, but the sun makes me feel a little warm! everyone is out side playing if , there's no suffering, anywhere! everyone is at peace,and happy!
it feels so great even imagining it!