The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

A place for anything that doesn't fit into the existing forums
Post Reply
snowheight
Posts: 1960
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:56 pm

The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by snowheight » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:59 am

(from near the bottom of page one on this thread)
enigma wrote:Yes, mind identification remains, and when mind turns toward the witness, there's nothing for mind. The subject (witness) is actually identifying with an object (mind) and imagines the object is the subject, and then looks for an object called the witness. Of course, there is no such object. It's all pretty convoluted. Hehe.
Ok, this reminded me of Dr. Amit Goswami's attempt to explain Consciousness after he had laid down a decent scientific groundwork in his book "The Self-Aware Universe". I read this before any exploration of self-inquiry and probably should re-read at this point.

He starts Chapter 13 with the following:

"The self of our self-reference is due to a tangled hierarchy, but our consciousness is the consciousness of Being that is beyond the subject-object split. There is no other source of consciousness in the universe. The self of self-reference and the consciousness of the original consciousness, together, make up what we call self- consciousness.”

He defined what he meant by a “tangled hierarchy” in the previous chapter by presenting the equation:

x = -1/x

as a model for the “liars paradox” : “I am a liar, you cannot believe a word I say” … (if you assume the speaker is lying (-1) then he is telling the truth (=1) but if you assume that he is telling the truth (1) then he is lying (=-1)).

The other example of a "tangled heirarchy" he uses is that of recursion, which programmers use as a trick to solve certain problems that simply involves writing a routine which calls itself : a programmer could add 2 + 2 like this :

Subroutine Add( x, y )
Begin
...Sum = x + y;

...Return Sum;
End

Somewhere else in the code the programmer would write:

Counter = sum( 2, 2 );

But a recursive subroutine looks like this:

Subroutine Eye( am )
Begin
......Eye( am);
End

Everything in that thread above started looking like this to me: when the subject tries to perceive itself as object it is trapped by, or lost to the recursion of self-consciousness.

The answer to such paradoxes, if I understood the author correctly, is transcendence. For example, the transcendent solution to x = -1/x is to define √-1, or the imaginary number “i”, which btw, is at the root of some very important science and engineering. The lights don’t come on with out “i”.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Goswami offers no transcendent language definition of the liars paradox. I think that says a lot about language. The wikipedia resolution is that the statement can be either “both true and false” (the speaker is either a liar telling the truth or an honest man telling a lie) or “neither true nor false” (evidently, refusing to believe that a liar can tell the truth or that George or Abe could ever lie).

The transcendent resolution to a recursive software function is either a core dump leading to thread or process death or an exiting condition:

Subroutine Eye( am )
Begin
...if am is PON then return;

...Otherwise Eye( am);
End

The language interpretation of the former is obvious while the 2nd seems to me like getting tricked into meditation by ET’s mousehole exercise.
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

enigma
Posts: 1067
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:51 am

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by enigma » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:07 am

My first impulse is to say it's not a tangled hierarchy, liars paradox, recursive deal, it's just mistaking the object for the subject. This misidentification occurs and is maintained through overly complex mental structures such as the above.

snowheight
Posts: 1960
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:56 pm

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by snowheight » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:33 am

The one that you describe in the other thread is "I seek therefore I am".
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

enigma
Posts: 1067
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:51 am

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by enigma » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:59 am

That doesn't sound like something I would say. Where did I say that?

snowheight
Posts: 1960
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:56 pm

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by snowheight » Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:11 am

enigma wrote:That doesn't sound like something I would say. Where did I say that?
You define the same circular process.

Here, we can start it in the middle to make the cyclical nature more clear.

First:
enigma wrote: and then looks for an object called the witness
or ... "I seek"

Followed by:
enigma wrote: and when mind turns toward the witness, there's nothing for mind. The subject (witness) is actually identifying with an object (mind) and imagines the object is the subject
or ... "therefore I am"

and so on.
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

enigma
Posts: 1067
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:51 am

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by enigma » Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:54 am

It doesn't mean 'I seek therefore I am'. It means what I said. The sense 'I am' arises with the body/mind and is not a conclusion derived from the activity of seeking (or thinking). Whether identification with the body/mind is happening or not, this sense remains.

There is, perhaps, something circular about awareness identifying with mind and using mind to seek awareness, though as I say, I prefer 'convoluted'. I don't see it as useful to apply recursive logic to that and complicate it further. It's a misidentification. The implications of that are clear enough.

snowheight
Posts: 1960
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:56 pm

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by snowheight » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:41 am

enigma wrote:It doesn't mean 'I seek therefore I am'.
Just a shorthand for the obvious abstract pattern.

Yes, the crux of the matter is the mis-identification. That is where transcendence comes into play.

√-1
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

User avatar
ashley72
Posts: 2533
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:24 am

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by ashley72 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:58 pm

Enigma wrote:My first impulse is to say it's not a tangled hierarchy, liars paradox, recursive deal, it's just mistaking the object for the subject. This misidentification occurs and is maintained through overly complex mental structures such as the above.

Amit Goswami’s 1993 book, The Self-Aware Universe. We shall see that Goswami assumes the validity of the concept of an objective reality, but is forced into a
questionable extension of this concept into a realm that is unmeasurable and unverifiable, the transcendental realm. We cite Goswami's theory as a good example of the quandary that
results
when an objective theory is postulated to explain subjective experience. A Course In Consciousness Page 98.


Then...
The reason Goswami hypothesized a transcendental realm was to explain how wavefunction collapse could occur without violating Einstein locality. Goswami's model, however, contains a
fundamental flaw. The transcendental realm is hypothesized to contain the wavefunction, yet the wavefunction as normally conceived is a function of time and space, which are absent in
the transcendental realm and in fact do not appear "until" wavefunction collapse. A more general way of stating the same flaw is that concepts in quantum theory are usually conceived
within the context of time and space, so it is in principle impossible to use such quantum concepts in a realm in which space-time is absent. Thus, the concepts of wavefunctions and
wavefunction collapse in the transcendental realm are meaningless. Goswami's transcendental realm is only one of several that have been conjectured (see
Section 8.1). Goswami’s model is useful in emphasizing the importance of identification and seeing how we are limited by it. In fact, knowing the exact mechanism for identification is not
necessary for the validity or understanding of Parts 2 and 3 of this course. What is necessary is to see that identification is an ongoing process that is never complete, so it is always
escapable, and therefore we are not forever doomed to suffer. Disidentification is possible at any time for any person (but the person cannot "do" it). Nevertheless, because the existence of a transcendental realm, like the existence of any other objective reality, can never be proved, conceiving one is tantamount to sweeping the whole problem of the origin of the world under the rug so that it is out of sight, or to invoking an unexplained and unexplainable god as creator, or to implicitly admitting the impossibility of an explanation. A much more elegant approach is to simply interpret the wavefunction as a
concept in the mind (see Section 6.11) rather than existing in either a transcendental realm or in space-time. As a pure concept, there is no collapse to try to explain. A Course In Consciousness Page 110.


Finally....
The purpose of postulating a transcendental realm is to attempt to explain phenomena that have no other explanation. This is done in order to maintain some semblance of an objective
reality, but the desperation in doing so is exposed by the fact that all transcendental realms are intrinsically unverifiable. In this they resemble the epicycles that Ptolemy invented in A.D. 140
in order to retain an earth-centered cosmology. The need to resort to such gimmicks conceals a fundamental defect that it would be better to reveal than to conceal.
We have come a long way from our discussion of objective reality and materialism in Sections 1.1 and 1.2. We have persisted in trying to find an objectively real explanation for all
observable phenomena. In doing so we have seen that the concept of objective reality starts to become so unwieldy that it threatens to collapse under its own dead weight. The
transcendental realms can hardly be called objective since there is no agreement at all about their properties, existence, or even necessity. The inescapable progression of our thought from
the material and tangible to the immaterial and incomprehensible strongly suggests that we are reaching the limits of science, and perhaps even breaching them (see also the discussion of
this point in Section 6.10). It also strongly suggests that science is incapable of explaining everything, a possibility we already discussed in Section 5.6.
The transcendental realms were invented in an attempt to explain how the manifestation arises, but perhaps the real problem is our insistence on an objective reality in the first
place.
A Course In Consciousness Page 112.


A Review of Physics
What does physics tell us about reality? In Section 1.1 , we saw that the existence of any external, objective reality is unverifiable by direct sense impression. Furthermore, if the
existence of an external, objective reality can never be verified by sense impression, it can have no effect on any sense impression. In Chapter 6, we saw that in most interpretations of
quantum theory, the world is made up of a series of perceptions. We shall see in the next section that it is only because thought conceptualizes these perceptions into objects that they
appear as objects to us. In Chapter 6, we saw that our insistence on an external, objective reality forced us into the quandary of choosing the concept of wavefunction collapse, hidden variables, or many
worlds. All of these interpretations are nonlocal. In Copenhagen theory, nonlocality results from nonlocal wavefunction collapse. In many-worlds theory, it results from nonlocal branching. In
hidden-variables theory, it results from the nonlocal quantum force. Hidden variables theory (Section 6.6) is the interpretation that is closest to classical theory
because of the presence of classical particles and the absence of consciousness. However, it has a puzzling nonlocal quantum force for which there is no counterpart in classical theory. In
many-worlds theory (Section 6.7), consciousness is assumed to cause branching, but how can it do that? In Copenhagen theory (Sections 6.3,6.4 ,6.5 ), consciousness causes wavefunction
collapse, but how does that occur? In Section 6.5 we saw that the Copenhagen interpretation requires consciousness to be universal as well as nonlocal. We can make the same argument about consciousness in the
many-worlds interpretation (Section 6.8) because it causes nonlocal branching. Thus, in these interpretations, there can be no individual consciousnesses--there is only nonlocal universal
consciousness. In Sections 6.10, 6.11, we saw that we can avoid all problems of wavefunction collapse, branching, and nonlocality if we interpret quantum theory subjectively instead of objectively. In
this interpretation, because there is no external, objective reality, everything that happens must happen only in the mind. The subjective interpretation is not only free from the problems of collapse, branching, and nonlocality, it is also remarkably similar to the teachings of Advaita and Mahayana Buddhism, which state the following: There are no objects. There is only a series of perceptions. There is no perceiver. There is only nonlocal universal consciousness. (In Advaita, nonlocal universal consciousness is called pure Awareness. In Mahayana Buddhism, it is called primordial consciousness, or Buddhanature.) It is remarkable that physics, which is ostensibly the science of external, objective reality, can tell us so much about subjective reality, and also can be in such agreement with our most profound nondualistic teachings. A Course In Consciousness Page 112.


Goswami's mistake....
In Chapter 7, we saw how Amit Goswami modeled the brain using a quantum part coupled to a classical part. In doing this, he hypothesized the appearance of an objective reality within the
context of monistic idealism (an evident self-contradiction). In order to circumvent the nonphysicality of wavefunction collapse in space-time, Goswami's theory assumes that
wavefunctions exist in a transcendental realm outside of space-time. But in Section 7.10 we saw that neither wavefunctions nor wavefunction collapse, both being defined in terms of
space-time, can exist outside of space-time. Thus, Goswami unintentionally reveals the paradoxical nature of the very transcendental realm that he hypothesized to remove the
paradox of wavefunction collapse in space-time! In addition, no transcendental realm or other form of external reality is directly verifiable, as we saw in Section 8.2.. Nevertheless, the
concept of identification, which Goswami attempted to explain, will be essential to our discussion of suffering as we continue in this course. A Course In Consciousness Page 113.



Subject Reality = Object Reality
There are no appearances, no universe, no enlightenment, no things and no absence of things, no space and no spacelessness, no time and no timelessness. No words can be used
to describe Reality--not even the word Reality itself. All words are concepts, and all concepts depend on separating and naming. As soon as we give something--even nothing--a name, we
have conceptualized it and have said too much. However, words can be very useful as pointers to Reality as long as we realize that the words are not Reality and cannot describe It.
The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon. When we realize that Reality cannot be described, we stop looking for It. Then we realize that there is no Reality and no absence of
Reality--and even that is saying too much. A Course In Consciousness Page 116.


Question: Can an object exist in any way other than as the thought of it? If so, how would its
existence be verified? How would we know whether something existed in the absence of a
thought of it?

Exercise: Investigate whether you exist in any way other than as a thought. One way to do this
is to examine everything that you think you are in the following way:
Am I a body? If so, can a body exist in any way other than as the thought of it? How would I
know?

Am I a mind? If so, can a mind exist in any way other than as the thought of it? How would I
know?

Am I a …..? etc.

In this way, investigate everything that you imagine yourself to be.


the sage Nisargadatta Maharaj says,

"Learn to look without imagination, to listen without distortion: that is all. Stop attributing names and shapes to the essentially nameless and formless, realize that every mode of perception is subjective, that what is seen or heard, touched or smelt, felt or thought, expected or imagined, is in the mind and not in reality, and you will experience peace and freedom from fear."
Last edited by ashley72 on Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

snowheight
Posts: 1960
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:56 pm

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by snowheight » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:07 am

Wow, this is some fantastic stuff Ash.

Gonna' take some time to really absorb it all.

I promise not only to stay civil in my reply but will pay special attention to any desire to be right that might emerge.

:)
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

snowheight
Posts: 1960
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:56 pm

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by snowheight » Fri Nov 11, 2011 5:24 pm

When I first posted this, a better headline, by way of clarification would have been "The Recursive self, a.k.a √-1" (little-s on the "self), as the phenomenon of recursive thinking correlates to our experience of "little-me". In this √-1 is a metaphor for a catalyst, and might perhaps be described (imperfectly, as it is of course beyond description) as the recognition of who one truly is.

(special thanks to runstrails for coining what would seem to be the obvious term "recursive thinking")
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

User avatar
ashley72
Posts: 2533
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:24 am

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by ashley72 » Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:23 pm

Bill,

A course in Consciousness has a wonderful explanation of identification and how it arises in the "little me" or as you refer to above as the little-s (self) with its recursive thinking.


7.5. Paradoxes and tangled hierarchies
Normally, we identify only with the experiences associated with a particular brain-body. In order to explain how universal consciousness might identify with a such a physical object (the combined sensory mechanism-brain structure), Goswami utilizes the concept of a tangled hierarchy which he borrowed from the 1980 book by Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, and Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. He gave the following analogy in order to illustrate this concept. 

We first introduce the concept of logical types. An example of logical types is the following:

1. People who make statements
2. Statements
An item which defines the context for another item is of a higher logical type than that of the other item. In the example above, the first item identifies objects (people) that define the context for the second item (statements that people make). Thus, people are of a higher logical type than statements.

Next we define a self-referential system. An example is the following:

1. The following statement is true.
2. The preceding statement is true.
Both of these items are of the same logical type since they are both statements. However, they refer to each other, making the system self-referential. In addition, the statements reinforce each other, strengthening the validity of each.

Now consider a paradoxical system of items of the same logical type:

1. The following statement is true.
2. The preceding statement is false.
If the first statement is true, the second statement makes it false, etc., thus leading to an infinite series of opposite conclusions. This is a paradox. All logical paradoxes arise from self-referential systems, i.e., systems that refer to themselves rather than to something outside of themselves.

We can reformulate both the reinforcing and paradoxical systems as single statements:

3. This statement is true (reinforcing).
4. This statement is false (paradoxical infinite series).
Now consider the following self-referential system:

5. I am a liar.

Let us consider three alternative interpretations of this statement.

a) If the "I" is the statement itself, then this does not mix logical types and is equivalent to the paradoxical infinite series of statement number 4 above.

b) However, if I am the person that is making the statement, I am of a higher logical type (I am the context of) than the statement I am making. Now there need be no paradox because the statement does not refer to itself or to another statement of the same logical type, but to I, which is of a higher logical type. If the statement does not affect its context, there is no mixing of the level of the statement with the level of its context. Thus, we do not yet have a tangled hierarchy because the clear delineation between the two levels is maintained.

One can say that the infinite series of interpretation a) may be discontinuously terminated by a shift in the meaning of "I" in order to obtain interpretation b). In this way, the paradox is eliminated.

c) Now suppose I start to think about the statement, and I begin to take it seriously, perhaps even believing it. The statement is affecting its context, and it changes it. Assuming that I was not a liar initially, I could actually become a liar, which would be a radical change in the context. If I become a thoroughgoing, inveterate liar and cannot make a truthful statement, a paradox develops. If I never tell the truth, and I state that I am a liar, then I am not lying, etc. The two levels have become inextricably entangled in a paradoxical, tangled hierarchy.

User avatar
ashley72
Posts: 2533
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:24 am

Re: The Recursive Self, a.k.a √-1

Post by ashley72 » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:08 am

This thread is a bit old, but its central idea (recursive nature of the psychological self) is something, I'm still very much interested in. Which is basically the ability to form objects within objects or symbols within symbols.

Image


Language is based on conceptual metaphor - which is the mapping of the source domain (physical experience) onto a target domain (symbols, language).

A simple example of this is when a map is drawn to represent a terrain. The terrain is the source domain, the map is the target domain.

Image <= Source Domain


Image <= Target Domain

How does this relate to this thread?

Well, I was recently watching a program on TV the other night.... and it was about an amazonian tribe called the Pirahã. This tribe is very interesting because their tribal language may lack recursion.

Image

Here is a good video which explains what I'm talking about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIbD7O79Goc

Another interesting behaviour documented about the Pirahã is that they live entirely in the PRESENT MOMENT.... and basically appear happy all the time.

Here is an example of a Pirahã tribe member talking... and he looks like he could explode with happiness! :lol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHv3-U9VPAs

Why is this interesting?

Well, Douglas Hofstadter believes that a Strange loop takes this form in human consciousness as the complexity of active symbols in the brain inevitably lead to self-reference. Hofstadter argues that the psychological self arises out of a similar kind of paradox. We are not born with an ‘I’ – the ego emerges only gradually as experience shapes our dense web of active symbols into a tapestry rich and complex enough to begin twisting back upon itself. According to this view the psychological ‘I’ is a narrative fiction, something created only from intake of symbolic data and its own ability to create stories about itself from that data.

Image

The question begs.... could the lack of symbolic complexity (recursion) in the Pirahã's language, inhibit the formation of a psychological self (Ego), as say seen in an English speaker?

Below is some more detailed information of the language:
Pirahã and Pronouns

Pirahã pronouns seem to be adopted from other local languages, and the grammar does not require their use. A useful example is that if I tell a story in Pirahã about a panther, "panther" must be mentioned in every sentence, until the panther dies at which point I can use pronouns, calling the panther "pronoun" + "animal meat". In general the Pirahã prefer not to use pronouns, maybe finding their use ambiguous.

Pirahã and Tense

Pirahã uses two morphemes for time to mark whether an experience is within the immediate control or experience of the speaker: 'a' remote and 'i' proximate. They lack any perfect tense. They have very few terms for other time-references. A complete list is as follows:

'ahoapio 'another day' (lit. 'other at fire'), pi'í 'now', so'óá 'already' (lit. 'time-wear'), hoa 'day' (lit. 'fire'), ahoái 'night' (lit. 'be at fire'), piiáiso 'low water' (lit. 'water skinny temporal'), piibigaíso 'high water' (lit. 'water thick temporal'), kahai'aíi'ogiíso 'full moon' (lit. 'moon big temporal'), hisó 'during the day' (lit. 'in sun'), hisóogiái 'noon' (lit. 'in sun big be'), hibigíbagá'áiso 'sunset/sunrise' (lit. 'he touch comes be temporal'), 'ahoakohoaihio 'early morning, before sunrise' (lit. 'at fire inside eat go'). (Everett 2005)
The unique tense requirements of Pirahã is probably responsible for the excitement displayed by the Pirahã people at events that come in and out of the world of experience. Pirahã love to come watch as a boat turns around the corner and out of sight, or even more exciting, when a match flickers in and out of existence - the fire is continually traversing the edge of reality.

Pirahã and kinship terms

In Pirahã, kinship terms are only used for relatives whom one has known, and never to ones that were born before one's own birth. When in the mid 1990's Everett tried to form a genealogy of the Pirahã people, he could not find a single person who knew the names of their great-grandparents. A complete list of kinship terms is as follows, ("ego" refers to the "I" who is using the kinship term):

'ahaigí 'ego's generation', tiobáhai 'any generation below ego', baí'i 'any generation above ego/someone with power over ego,' 'ogií 'any generation above ego/someone with power over ego' (lit. 'big'), 'ibígaí 'usually two generations above ego or more but overlaps with baí'i and 'igií' (lit. 'to be thick'), hoagí 'biological son' (lit. 'come next to'), hoísai 'biological son' (lit. 'going one'), kaai 'biological daughter' (a house is a kaaiíi 'daughter thing'), piihí 'child of at least one dead parent/favorite child'. (Everett 2005)
Pirahã and the absence of creation myths

In a nutshell: the Pirahã do not create fiction, and they have no creation stories or myths. (My understanding is that they can still tell stories (and Everett explicitly says that they can lie, especially for humorous purposes) but that they cannot consider a story to be a thing unto itself).

I have attempted to discuss cosmology, the origin of the universe, etc., with the Pirahã innumerable times. They themselves initiate many of these discussions, so there is no question of any reluctance to discuss the "true story" with me as an outsider. In the early days, before I spoke Pirahã , I would occasionally try to use Portuguese to elicit the information. Often this or that Pirahã informant would tell me (in Portuguese) that they had stories like this and would even tell me bits and pieces, which I thought were similar to Christian stories or Tupi legends common in that part of Brazil (e.g., the widespread beliefs about river porpoises and dolphins, especially the pink dolphin, emerging from the rivers at night to take on human form and go in search of women tomarry, rape, and so on). Indeed, now that I speak Pirahã , I know that even among themselves the Pirahã repeat and embellish these stories. But there are no indigenous creation myths or fiction any longer, if indeed they ever existed, and there is not a single story about the ancient past told by any Pirahã other than bits and pieces of Tupi and Portuguese stories (not always acknowledged as such). When pressed about creation, for example, Pirahã say simply, "Everything is the same," meaning that nothing changes, nothing was created. (Everett 2005)

Post Reply