What is that feeling of ecstasy all about?

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Gary Wassner, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    It seems that if the parietal lobe of the brain is deactivated through drugs or stimulation then our sense of self is deactivated too. That portion of the brain is what gives us a three-dimensional sense of the body and its orientation in space. Without that orientation, we are suspended in an ecstatic, almost transcendental state, and the boundaries that usually separate us from the world around us, disappear. As in transcendental meditation, we think we may have discovered another reality, or at least transcendended this one. So, this spiritual transformation is really a physical change, or the result of one, whether self induced or chemically induced.

    As they recently determined that alcoholism is the direct result of a gene that establishes the proclivity for it, perhpas spirituality will also be determined to be the result of a gene that stimulates the supression of the parietal lobe and makes us feel at one with the universe, makes us believe.

    So who are we really? What remains sacred for us? Is my yearning for meaning just my genetic proclivity for the divine, and nothing more?
     
  2. GameMaster

    GameMaster Wise

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    The natural man is carnal and devilish, only in keeping these natural feelings under control can we find any kind of civil enlightening actions.
     
  3. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Give me liberty!

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    I've never felt let down or disenfranchised by the possibility that there are entirely naturalistic explanations for the intangible puzzles that have as yet eluded our full understanding.

    As Carl Sagan and others have written, the prospect of science holding an exploratory torchlight up to the unexplained phenomena of the natural world shouldn't make us settle in for some kind of boring science lesson: It should fill us with genuine amazement that we can even begin to answer the big questions. We've come along way, baby.
     
  4. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Neither have I. But when we break them all down to naturalistic explanations, what are we left with? And how do we reconstruct?
     
  5. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Here's the problem for me: as with what concerns RSB*, when we take an fMRI as a physical event in the brain and assume conclusions from that event we are leaping into areas for which we have no firm substantiation. For example, the difference between a full fledged human and a zombie is consciousness, the human is self-aware and passes judgement on its behavior. If we deactivate the parietal lobe of a zombie, we have - by the above quote - caused no disability because the zombie never had any consicousness. But, humans, by definition, have consicousness, self-awareness. Remove the self-awareness, you remove the human. Isn't that what all the fuss is about with "vegetable" states? Humans come equipped with functioning parietal lobes. Without them, they are less than human.

    Secondly, you point out there is a gene for proclivity for alcoholism. I will point out that there are genes for proclivity to aging, Alzheimer's, cancer, homosexualism, and blue eyes. The difference with alcoholism is that there is a matter of free-will involved. A sister might decide to best the proclivity where a father and brother succumbed. There are many who argue that the proclivity for homosexualism falls into the same category, that it can be overcome by exercise of will.

    Thirdly, :) , is your yearning for meaning a genetic proclivity? Why does it matter? All that matters is that you have it, exercise it, and come up with answers that work for you.

    *See RSB's "Be afraid.." thread.
     
  6. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    All your comments are well taken. But the reduction of this aspect of the parietal lobe can be done naturally as well. We can self-induce it. The point of this thread was not so much as to gnash my teeth at our pitiable state, but to question our isolated sense of self that consciuosness foists upon us. (What an insidious person I really am) Consciousness, what you say distinguishes us as human, also separates us from the world we are very much a part of.

    The genetic biologist who just published the definitive paper on the genetic roots of alcoholism would be flabbergasted at your complacent response to his study. BTW. I just was with him and he was bursting with pride at its publication due to the groundbreaking aspects of it. It's one thing to speculate on the genetic derivation of everything. It's another thing to demonstrate it specifically.
     
  7. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Can you see an alternative to the isolation of self? How about if we daisy-chained all our parietal lobes; would we then achieve a group consciousness and would that be superior in any way to our isolated selves?
    BTW, thanks for the typo. That does wonders for my self esteem. :)
    +
    Who are you, again? :D
    Why would my comments flabbergast him? Has he single-handledly disproved the efficacy of AA, the reality of my family history with father and brother who fatally succumbed to the gene, with sister who has apparently overcome the proclivity, with self who must carry the gene but has yet to succumb to it? Proclivity is not instantiation, is it? Or has your friend now defined/demonstrated/proven a "genetic" predestination and will we be able to teach it the public schools or will we be required to refer to is as god's will?
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2005
  8. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Flabbergasted because you seemed to find it already a matter of fact. He would be surprised, living in the 'proof' world that he lives in. We assume things that he doesn't assume, and his mind-set is quite different regarding what i might refer to as a fact and what he might consider a fact. No slight intended, HE.



    Daisy chained parietal lobes! Wow. Maybe someday.

    Would that make the result superior? I don't think it's a question of value.

    But when I begin to separate my mind from my body, I start to see my body differently, and it scares me. It's like schizophrenia. I prefer the psychotic.
     
  9. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Then, conceding it has no value <damn, I can't resist opportunities like that :D > would the daisy chain resolve the dilemma of the isolation of self in a manner satisfactory to you? Would having everyone in your head be better than just you? Or is that what you mean by preferring psychotic to schizophrenic? In which case, what was the question you set out to resolve?
     
  10. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Did I ask a question? ;)

    KatG was making fun of me in another thread elsewhere, and she suggested that she begin a thread titled 'Gary's Questions'.

    Hey, I can't help it. It's those genetic proclivities. I'm not to blame.

    We come full circle always it seems. What happened to the dialectical process? Isn't it supposed to take us to new and loftier places? That collective consciousness, that daisy-chained parietal lobe theory (DCPLT), sounds like a 60's acid trip. But then again, LSD broke down those separating neurological charges that made us see ourselves as independent and isolated.
     
  11. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Time out for a little good old fashioned self-promotion. Having folk in your head is a question I've spent a good deal of time pondering. My current take in fictionalized form sits in the Community Section as a WIP, an apt description of its current state. The link to the intro is:
    http://www.sffworld.com/community/story_edit.php?pid=382.
    There are currently 31 installments thereafter (@54k words, I think).
     
  12. Larry

    Larry Vaguely Borgesian

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    I'm still waiting for definitive explanations why left-handers and ambidextrous folk (like myself) tend to have differing perceptions of the world and how to organize thoughts and concepts. I've even heard a few have postulated that being Lefty is the result of brain damage! :eek:

    Maybe this is part and parcel with the larger discussion above?
     
  13. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    And I hate Chinese food! Where's the gene for that?
     
  14. kegasaurus

    kegasaurus I smell BBQ

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    It's amazing isn't it. we have two real thoughts on everything. Either we're all a chemical reaction, nothing more than a scientific experiment taught to think through probability, or we're a victim of something bigger, a universal consciouness that has a connection to all that is godliness.

    chemicals altering perception? Seems to me we are nothing more than a science experiment gone wrong.

    Makes you question your place doesn't it?
     
  15. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    Yeah, just a jump to the left and a step to the right.
     
  16. alison

    alison Books of Pellinor

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    There'sa fascinating book on consciousness called "The Feeling of What Happens" by a neurologist called Antonio Damasio. Well worth the read. It interested me because he posits feeling as a core part of human consciousness, and postulates a complex feedback effect between what he calls "core" consciousness and the beginning of awareness - the knowledge that we are feeling something - that has some very counter-intuitive implications. Fascinating stuff, absolutely based in biological realities, and not in the least reductive - the title in fact comes from a poem, and he quotes a lot of poetry, which for me is a good sign. A long way from this hardcore hardwiring model, with which I have so many problems. Review here if you're interested.
     
  17. Gary Wassner

    Gary Wassner GemQuest

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    I just read that review and it is interesting.

    One of the things that I find so fascinating about the examination of consciousness is the realization that it is only and totally our own. What I mean is that the way I experience something can never ever truly be shared. My entire chain of being goes into each of my perceptions, colors them, shapes them and allows me to interpret them the unique way that I do. It's alot to assume that you could ever see something the same way that I do. We communicate and we create words to help us describe what we experience, and often the words themselves tell us how to experience, but what I see and what you see cannot be the same. Pure experience is meaningless. Pure observation without perspective doesn't make much sense. And my perspective is based upon the entire chain of my perceptions, my experiences, during my life. It's amazing that we can speak coherently to one another at all.

    A color inspires a chemical reaction in my brain different from yours. A food, a touch, a poem, a picture - all different. We can learn to appreciate similar things and we do often. But we don't ever know that what we experience is being done so in the same fashion as another person. We know ourselves better than anyone else knows us, and we know so little. Think of all the things you know about yourself that you would never share with anyone. Not secrets, just things about yourself that shape who you are, from the physical to the emotional to the intellectual. We are intimate with ourselves and no one else could ever participate in that intimacy. So we experience the world from that perspective and purely uniquely.
     
  18. whitesilkbreeze

    whitesilkbreeze Registered User

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    *puzzled* Although our yearning for the spiritual may be explained scientifically, that doesn't have to mean there is nothing "more", does it? Sometimes, you feel a natural high and unity with the universe that wasn't induced by external substances like alcohol -- just because you can explain what chemicals cause what feelings doesn't make the feeling any less real, I think. I'm not really sure how to word myself, but I don't feel that science and the supernatural/spiritual are necessarily incompatible with each other.

    There is none. You just have to force feed yourself until you get used to it. ;) I'm Chinese, and it's taken years to appreciate the more basic dishes. :p
     
  19. alison

    alison Books of Pellinor

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    I used to sit in the city and look around me, amazed by the thought of all these people who all, like me, were their own worlds...(and all of them thinking, like me, that they were the centre of the world, which is true of their worlds). Sometimes it seems amazing that people can communciate at all. And yet, somehow, we do: even if communication is a series of misunderstandings, we still manage something like exchange; sometimes, even if rarely, a profound exchange.

    Whitesilkbreeze, I'm a complete atheist/materialist, with a total belief in spiritual realities. I think human beings create those realities, which makes them even more poignant and precious, to my way of thinking, anyway.
     
  20. whitesilkbreeze

    whitesilkbreeze Registered User

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    Oh, that's a lovely way of thinking.

    I don't actually have a stance any which way. My upbringing has allowed me to get to know some basic Western and Eastern philosophies, which can be pretty different and interesting. My parents also have widely differing views (one's atheist, the other's not), but they're both more concerned with living well rather than the metaphysical side. (To quote Confucious: 'How can you try to understand death when you haven't understood life yet?')