Sunday, September 19, 2010

sanity as a first step towards enlightenment

We all lead multiple lives. Some of us, like me, have to wear so many different hats that
I have thought about creating a hat closet, and actually wearing them to conferences,
to help people keep it straight when I change hats.

One of my hats is as a scientist, trying to get people to see the way to understanding
and replicate that level of higher intelligence which exists even in the brain of a mouse. Call it the mouse hat. Another hat is as a person, still using what I know from math, but using everything else as well, playing by ear, try to understand and advance higher levels of intelligence,
all the way up to stuff like what Bucke calls "cosmic consciousness." Call it the atman hat.

There are many paths up the mountain... but for a mathematical thinker, at least, the tidiest path is like the slide of a mountain I often show in neural network talks, posted at A key step along the way is to make full, coherent use
of what the human brain is capable of, including a full well-grounded use of words and
other symbols. I call this "sanity." It has a lot to do with what Freud and Confucius
(Kung Fu Tzu) talked about.

But... I realize this morning that I have oversimplified more than I should when discussing
sanity -- for example, in my recent posting here on discussions about Kung Fu Tzu in China.

Usually, I emphasize... what might be called... verbal sanity, or symbolic sanity, the integration
of our symbolic and subsymbolic selves. This is a problem for humans, but not for mice.
Many characteristic neuroses of humans (often totally out of touch with reality in the modern world) simply don't apply to mice. Humans get hypnotized... mice are immune.

But... how could I ever forget to say a few words about "mouse sanity." Mice are not at all
totally free from certain important kinds of sanity problems. After the fox.. their own
'version of post traumatic stress disorder?

It's really weird I should forget that, because when I wear the mouse hat... as in the talks
I gave to the Erdos circle on the mathematics of prediction (posted at I talked a lot about the mathematical mechanism of "syncretism" which underlies this issue.

So the path to cosmic consciousness which I would support... begins with both mouse sanity and
symbolic sanity.

Even mouse sanity requires more gloabl understanding, a necessary requirement for not being
aberrated by painful traumas (filling our world with human psychological minefields,'
unavble to adapt to today's challenges) and euphoric traumas (folks a bit lost
in hopeful unreality)...

But must run...

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