May 24, 2017

Michel Bitbol, David Kaiser, and Sam Harris

Trying to reconcile modern physics with ancient spiritual doctrines Eastern or Western is not useful for the progress of our understanding of reality. At best it is a diversion, at worst it leads to fake science. For the record, I regret (as a naive young man) having played a pivotal role in such books as Space-Time and Beyond, Tao of Physics, and The Dancing Wu Li Masters (see David Kaiser's two books How the Hippies Saved Physics and Groovy Science for that story) in misleading millions of New Age progressives in that direction.

May 24, 2017

Jack, if you think that non-physicalist metaphysics has no role to play in science, do you think Michel Bitbol's 'Is Consciousness Primary?" is equally misguided as the authors and books you mention?

Don Salmon
May 24, 2017

Dear Syamala-ji,

I think you have nicely articulated the problem of free will. 

I think that free will is this elusive resource that impels one's choice, but doesn't compel it. 

Free will = freedom + [ guidance / desire ]

i.e., the ability to enforce guidance  (regarding "natural laws") over desire, in a state where the rest of the universe prior to the choice permits more than one option to be chosen, i.e., free will has a counterfactual potency: a person who freely chose option A could really have chosen B.

Freedom provides the base or "elbow room" for the element of mental desire and guidance to battle for supremacy. Thus, free will fundamentally requires a two-level framework to be defined, a is a causal primitive different from both determinism and indeterminism (chance or probabilistic law), both of which reside at the "base level". 

One might suppose that this two-level structure could be collapsed into an over-arching single-level of determinism or indeterminism. But we claim that this such an over-arching (in)deterministic law is uncomputable at all transfinite Turing degrees and in that sense doesn't exist. Thus, the base level doesn't  have a (computable) causal closure no matter what the causal depth.

The act of choice creates a positive feedback effect strengthening the desire (and thereby generating karma and binding sanskaras in the subconscious) or dissolving the "vasana" (at the unconscious-level), of which the desire is a conscious-level manifestation. Note that this self-changing plasticity is reflected at the level of the physical brain, as recent research has shown.

From the perspective of spirituality, free will provides a mechanism by which the universe gradually evolves to a state of inner freedom, by deleting desire-generating vasanas (in contravention to a psychic version of Landauer's principle!). 

Thanks and regards,
May 24, 2017
Dr. R. Srikanth
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Theoretical Sciences
Poornaprajna Institute of Scientific Research
Bangalore- 560 080, Karnataka, India.


Some of the topics under discussion on this list will also be the topics of our presentation in Science and Scientist - 2017:

1. Science is not Sacrosanct and Science Takes Place Within an Orthodox Tradition
2. Neurology, Phrenology, Astrology - The Problem of Correlationism in Modern Science
3. The Unreasonable Relation of Mathematics to Natural Science
4. One can be a Scientific Skeptic of Evolution Theory
5. Beyond the Modern Monolith of Consciousness
6. The False Elephant and the False Ego

Thanking you.


Bhakti Niskama Shanta, Ph.D.
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Institute
8, Gopalakrishnan Mansion, Konappana Agrahara, Electronic City, Bangalore
May 24, 2017

Assorted tweets:
The debate between @SamHarrisOrg & Deepak Chopra was a waste. This will be same. Our "generic spiritualists" are too confused, not logical
Debating @SamHarrisOrg requires analytical skills & scientific IQ, not enough to say "this is my private experience".
worth listening to a talk  between @jordanbpeterson and @SamHarrisOrg on the issue of what is truth. Don't think Sam can understand #maya
But sam harris does aknowledge higher states of meditative experiences which are totally different from a rational mundane world
There are trained scientists like Dr John  Hagelin (Maharishi Mahrsh yogis disciple) who can take on Sam Harris and Dawkins easily.
Deepak is under qualified to debate Sam. I think Sam might be interested in discussing Advaita with an intelligent and articulate Hindu.
@SamHarrisOrg is one who follows the farce idea of 'spiritual but not religious'. I think Rajivji should be the best to debate him.
No offense, Mr. Naga, but I think that is wishful thinking. Sam is very articulate can derail anyone. No harm is staying positive, however.

Book Extract:
Sri Aurobindo

A spiritual evolution, an evolution of consciousness in Matter in a constant developing self-formation till the form can reveal the indwelling spirit, is then the key note, the central significant motive of the terrestrial existence. This significance is concealed at the outset by the involution of the Spirit, the Divine Reality, in a dense material Inconscience; a veil of Inconscience, a veil of insensibility of Matter hides the universal Consciousness-Force which works within it, so that the Energy, which is the first form the Force of creation assumes in the physical universe, appears to be itself inconscient and yet does the works of a vast occult Intelligence. The obscure mysterious creatrix ends indeed by delivering the secret consciousness out of its thick and tenebrous prison; but she delivers it slowly, little by little, in minute infinitesimal drops, in thin jets, in small vibrant concretions of energy and substance, of life, of mind, as if that were all she could get out through the crass obstacle, the dull reluctant medium of an inconscient stuff of existence. At first she houses herself in forms of Matter which appear to be altogether unconscious, then struggles towards mentality in the guise of living Matter and attains to it imperfectly in the conscious animal. 

This consciousness is at first rudimentary, mostly a half subconscious or just conscious instinct; it develops slowly till in more organised forms of living Matter it reaches its climax of intelligence and exceeds itself in Man, the thinking animal who develops into the reasoning mental being but carries along with him even at his highest elevation the mould of original animality, the dead weight of subconscience of body, the downward pull of gravitation towards the original Inertia and Nescience, the control of an inconscient material Nature over his conscious evolution, its power for limitation, its law of difficult development, its immense force for retardation and frustration. This control by the original Inconscience over the consciousness emerging from it takes the general shape of a mentality struggling towards knowledge but itself, in what seems to be its fundamental nature, an Ignorance. Thus hampered and burdened, mental man has still to evolve out of himself the fully conscious being, a divine manhood or a spiritual and supramental supermanhood which shall be the next product of the evolution. That transition will mark the passage from the evolution in the Ignorance to a greater evolution in the Knowledge, founded and proceeding in the light of the Superconscient and no longer in the darkness of the Ignorance and Inconscience.

Tweets by @SavitriEraParty
[How can we recognise the shackles that tradition has laid upon us? For when we recognise them, we are also able to break them. -Franz Boas]
Sri Aurobindo helps in breaking free from the shackles of prejudice and conditioning at three crucial levels: Ontology, religion, & politics
As regards Ontology both science and philosophy encounter an impasse. Nothing to surpass Judeo-Vedic Evolutionary teleology of Sri Aurobindo
Old religions are beyond repair and hence The Mother & Sri Aurobindo hewed a new path of living by reinventing Vedic Evolutionary dialectic.
Sri Aurobindo rolls out the golden mean amidst the chaos and confusion perpetrated by Gandhi, Nehru, Marx, Lohia, Ambedkar, Savarkar, et al.
RSS strayed away from its original inspiration from Sri Aurobindo to make Muslim-hatred a core principle by pandering to popular sentiments.
Sri Aurobindo had tried to salvage Congress in 1907 but the British used Gokhale to anoint Gandhi as leader to keep it under own patronage.
Apart from Congress and RSS, the Communist movement also owes its origin to Sri Aurobindo through M.N. Roy, Anushilan, and Jugantar groups.
Thus, it's clear how three major political streams have moved away from Sri Aurobindo during the last 100 years and it's time now to return.
Western world is eternally indebted to Plato, Aristotle, and Pre-Socratics. Indians must inculcate same pride for the Veda via Sri Aurobindo
Let it be known that thanks to Twitter, I'm fighting here simultaneously against Marxist contempt and Hindutva indifference of Sri Aurobindo
My twelve years with social media has revolved around a single theme and it's Sri Aurobindo. My belief/views are free as I'm not accountable
Twitter providing an opportunity to write and share is a whopping advantage of our age which helps in disseminating Sri Aurobindo's message.
A friend tried to chasten me for my bias of Sri Aurobindo by "Gurus are for those who cannot find themselves and lack proper introspection."
Those writing on Twitter feel themselves to be Gurus and are averse to read Sri Aurobindo. But tough mental blocks vanishing is not unlikely
Savitri Era: Hindutva has no use for Sri Aurobindo's Secret of the Veda
Integral Yoga is not a secular exercise and amounts to a new religion by another name. The Mother & Sri Aurobindo spent their lives for it.
I'm a devotee of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. I call it Savitri Era Religion; fosters rationality & is a good alternative for new generation.
Savitri Era Religion ensuing from the legacy of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is free from any form of rituals or dogma
Savitri Era Religion based on Sri Aurobindo's Vedic rediscovery gives an alternative to all those who feel alienated by Hindutva aggression.
Sri Aurobindo's reinterpretation of Veda is proving to be epitome of Consciousness studies as Quantum physics & Neuroscience fail to fathom.
Savitri Era Religion with the Integral Yoga of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo at its core is the most modern & liberal alternative to old faiths
Sri Aurobindo's ARYA (1914-1921) writings are a revolution: "collapse of the old order" for "love, wisdom and unity"
[love, wisdom and unity ... ultimate goal,—the conscious oneness of the Soul in humanity and the divinity of man.] ~SA
Welcome to the modern and liberal ethos of Savitri Era Religion inspired by The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. #FiveDreams
Savitri Era: Cling to Sri Aurobindo's Vedic rediscovery - Tusar Nath Mohapatra, Director, Savitri Era Learning Forum
[Despite profundity of his philosophy and wider implications Sri Aurobindo and his ideas are less known in the West]
Savitri Era Open Forum: My twelve years with social media #SriAurobindo #WorldUnion

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