Wednesday, 23 November 2011

This, That and The Other

I am This. When I look out at the world, I see That. That is the world I try to understand. Sometimes I try to look in at myself, I try to understand This.
To me, you are The Other, you are a special part of That which I assume is like me. Of course, you see yourself as 'This' and to you, I am 'The Other'. But we both share an experience of That.

The interface between This and That is my skin. Perhaps the self does not lie inside or outside this membrane but in the membrane itself - just like the present exists in the membrane between past and future.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Real World Out There

The RWOT is where we go to test our scientific theories to see if they are true.
Does the RWOT really exist (independently from us)?
Do we continuously modify it?
Does it depend on the stories we tell about it?
Does it modify us?
Do we modify it?
Perhaps the idea of the RWOT came after the invention of windows? (No not the Microsoft one!)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Who created God?

It is my belief that we created the idea of God, just as we have created other useful concepts like Energy, Matter, Time and Space.
Is it possible that we created God AND God created us?

What is the universe made of?

The universe is made of events and stories.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

What beliefs matter?

Some beliefs affect our individual lives and the way we live them, the decisions we take and the goals we set for ourselves. Other beliefs though they seem at first to be fundamental, don't make two hoots of difference to our behavior.
Some beliefs which matter 
The power of prayer, destiny, The existence of Good and Evil forces, Heaven and/or Hell, Karma, A belief in the Divine Right of a ruler, belief in an interventionist God, magic, that you are invulnerable, patriotism, that one race or group is superior/inferior to another, that mankind is basically good/evil, greed is good/bad, we should follow a set of divine rules.
Some beliefs which don't make any difference
Cosmology, the laws of Physics, evolution, determinism, that God created/did not create the universe, that a non-interventionist God does/does not exist, that we have an immortal soul but we don't remember anything of our past life.

"But the Solar System" I protested.
"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently, "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would make not a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work".
A Study in Scarlet - Mr Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Duration and size

This graph plots Duration (the length of time for which something lasts) against its size (Volume). The axes are both approximate logarithmic scales (with a few gaps so I could squeeze everything in). The arrows show how some things change in size over their lifetime. I could not think of many things which get smaller, but put in the polar ice caps as an example.

Determinism and fatalism

Determinism is the belief that every event in the universe is caused by previous events and so all outcomes are inevitable and (theoretically) predictable. In other words the present state of all the particles in the universe is the inevitable consequence of its initial state (the big bang). This would seem at first to annihilate the idea of 'free will', since whenever we 'seem to make a decision', in fact the outcome was inevitable. But in what way is 'seeming to make a decision' any different from actually making a decision?
Fatalism is the belief that some events are pre-determined. For example the bullet or lottery ticket 'has your name on it' - whatever you do you can't avoid the Finger of Fate. Many stories  (e.g. Macbeth, Oedipus) explore this assumption. The doctrine of Karma is a variation of this where a cosmic balance sheet is kept which subtly adjusts fate to influence future outcomes.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The last drug

Research for a cure for dementia produces a drug which miraculously rejuvenates the nervous system. But only for a day. You experience a day of bliss - then you die.
Available on the black market, the drug kills old and young in large numbers.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


As the first syllable of the word is spoken
On the horizon
Just before the alarm rings
At the join of the toupee
On the seashore
As the finger touches the trigger
At the moment between breathing out and breathing in

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A zen koan

A koan is a kind of linguistic puzzle set by zen masters to subvert the logical thought process and provoke a state of confusion which can give rise to enlightenment. (a famous example is 'What is the sound of one hand clapping?')

This koan is called 'Not Wind, Not Flag'.
Q. 'See the flag blowing in the wind - what is it that moves?'
A1. 'The flag?' - 'No - the flag is what is moved.'
A2. 'The wind?' - 'No the wind simply moves the flag.'
A3. (supposedly the correct answer.) 'Not wind and not flag.' 
Some of the confusion arrises because Wind and Flag are different kinds of concepts. Even more confusion arrises because 'moves' has two meanings: as a cause of movement and as the movement itself.
In the Venn diagrams, Not flag includes Wind, and Not wind includes Flag of course.
Are you confused or enlightened? (or both).