Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Note Regarding Content

I've realized I still want to keep this blog alive, or at least in a feeble state of existence that approximates life. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I don't have the interest or motivation to write out posts with the thought and research I'd originally planned. In fact, at this time (judging from my last post), I can't even assemble together posts that reach a definitive point backed by argument, or that are structured in a coherent manner.

But hey, then, why not just go with that? Basically, I am now relaxing the standards for my posts (wait, what? I had standards before?). Until further notice, Doubt Rests shall be a repository for half-formed thoughts, quotes, or whatever vaguely interesting factoids I come across. Don't expect explanation or justification for everything I write (although if you ask nicely I might elaborate), and certainly don't expect fully developed ideas. The contents will likely be of a more personal nature than previously. All will be fragmentary, but fragments put forth in the hope that failed attempts to progress are better than none at all.

And maybe someone, somewhere, some time might find a fragment here which fits well into his/her own thoughts.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Quantum mechanics tells us that the universe operates in very, very unusual ways. It is natural to want to dismiss some of the interpretations of QM (such as that natural laws are inherently probabilistic) as problems with our understanding, not as genuine features of reality. This is essentially a knee-jerk reaction to the oddness of QM and how it does not "mesh" with our everyday understanding of the world. However, science also informs us that we are the products of many years of evolution--and this evolution process equipped us to deal with one thing, and one thing only: survival. Our senses and reasoning faculties were not "designed" to help us humans apprehend truths about the world; rather, they were selected to enable humans qua systems to manipulate information in such a way that the systems preserve and replicate themselves. Luckily, knowing the truth--or approximating it--proved beneficial to the survival of these systems (these information processing patterns).

In simpler terms, more proto-humans who were able to correctly judge that there really is a savage tiger hiding in the grass over there successfully passed on their genes than those who hallucinated constantly. Or than those who had no knowledge whatsoever, who were not able to act on their knowledge, who had faulty reasoning processes, whatever.

Thus evolution tells us.

Unfortunately, to say "there really is a tiger over there" and leave it at that drastically oversimplifies the state of human existence. Because really, we don't know that there is or is not a tiger over there. All we know is that some collection of sights, sounds, scents, or inferences has caused us to believe that something over there can cause damage to us if we do not act accordingly. (Assume it's a hungry tiger and that we are defenseless in a savanna.) We may think to ourselves "There is a tiger," and we may believe "There is a tiger," and there is probably even a sense in which it is true that there is a tiger. But what we call a tiger is a convenient abstraction--a shorthand tag which bundles together a collection of concepts, memories, and/or feelings. So too, presumably, with our notion of existence--we have a certain understanding of what it means for something "to be" and "to be there." and we predicate this notion upon the abstraction "tiger."

[Edit as of 04-05-2009: I should mention that yes, Kant (and other philosophers) claim that existence is not a predicate. I do recognize that it's a contested notion and I disagree with the mainstream opinion; but I shan't defend it now.]

"Well, what of it?" I hear you say. "You're not telling us anything that the pioneering philosophers of the 17th-18th century didn't when they first speculated about our psychological workings; and you're barely even consistent with today's psychological theories."

Fair enough. But, if we can suppose that the tenets of natural selection are true, then we should firmly keep in mind that our knowledge...


This post is dissolving into incoherency. And as usual I don't have the patience to fix it. I shouldn't even post it. But whatever.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


[Please forgive this amateur flight of fanciful, mystical indulgence. This comes from a diary entry I wrote over the summer. I decided I needed to post it somewhere. I can't say I believe these sentiments, but I have sometimes taken comfort in them.]

Maybe I am starting to feel... that somewhere, somehow, in a realm outside of conceivability, our essences intermingle. And our essences love each other, they love each other so much that it almost tears them apart, yet simultaneously unites them all the more gloriously for it. Our essences love and understand why all this tragedy is necessary, why the struggle is necessary for growth, why all is truly joy and not sorrow. Our beings love each other because they created each other, because they dreamed themselves into being, and they chose each other out of all the other possible existences because this way was right. We love each other eternally, devoutly, devotedly, passionately, irrepressibly.

We love each other and are each other. We love each other because we are each other--because of that sympathetic resonance from one core to another--a unification in rhythm that reveals our inherent, underlying unity. Our oneness.

... You and I are one, just as everything else is one. Yet somehow you are special, and I am special, and our love is special.

So we play this game--because it is the unmasking, the revealing, the unraveling, the development, the exploration, the uncertainty, the discovery--these things give us more meaning than jumping straight toward the answer.