=?iso-8859-1?Q?Re:_virus:_no=EBtic_experiences_and_phaith?=

Eric Boyd (6ceb3@qlink.queensu.ca)
Thu, 1 Apr 1999 14:36:50 -0500

Hi,

Tim Rhodes <proftim@speakeasy.org> writes:

<<
Somehow I knew you'd have the references for those handy! Thank you.
>>

It was actually easy. The post I referenced was amoung my list of "all time good" messages (saved in a special folder in my email box), and I remembered that. Very handy.

<<
So true. One of these days we need to get around to actually discussing the nature of list communication. I know people have tried to start the discussion, but it always seems to peter out too soon. I know (using this message as a fer-instance) that I am often more motivated to write replies to things I strongly disagree with first, and get back to the things I only marginally disagree with later (or sometimes, not at all).
>>

I have exactly the same experience -- see, the only thing I can say to a post I agree with is "yea, me too!", which is quite obviously pointless and bandwith wasting. I wonder if this sort of thing is not even broader than just e-mail; whether it is fundamentally a propery of idea-development, i.e. if people agree entirely, idea development does not progress. Could you explain *that* via an evolutationary argument (variation and selection?)

<<

"If you want to find out about a topic on a newsgroup, don't ask,
"What can you all tell me about X, Y & Z?"  Rather, obnoxiously state,
"X, Y, & Z are a load of crap and anyone who fall for it is an idiot!"
You'll get much better results."
>>

It's also sad to say, but I'm sure you're right. You will get more replies. But you will also get more "us vs them", more hostility, and more ad-hominum.

<<
I don't think it is "un-talk-aboutable," though. The subjective experience of the particular individual might fall in that category, but if we look at it from a behavioral POV (that's shorthand for "point of view" BTW) I think we can talk about it quite well. There is a stimulus--the religious experience--and a resulting modification of behavior. It doesn't seem to hard to discuss if your willing to approach it in those terms.
>>

Interesting idea. In that case, are we not studying phaith and it's development (the "incarnational narritive", in my words) more than noŽtic experiences persay?

<<
> Could we say instead that phaith emerges from noŽtic experiences?

I think that is many ways a correct reading of KMO's definition. It would be interesting to explore how those types of experiences are brought on and what they consist of.
>>

Agreed, although I think I spy a problem here, having to do with the essential individual nature of them. It would be interesting to do a cross-relgion study on methods for inducing noŽtic experiences -- what rituals, what drugs, what yoga's are used, and why?

<<
Let's face it folks, shaman and ministers and Zen masters and cult leaders have all been highly effective at creating an atmosphere that is conducive to these states for eons now. If the Rationalists can't figure out how to generate a similar experience in people around the idea of "Reason"... well, their touted "rationality" isn't really worth a damn as a memeplex, is it?
>>

If you're saying that we need to make reason into a phaith, I'm not sure I agree. It is certainly an interesting thought, though. Do you think Richard Dawkins is an example of such a phaithful individual? How about Ayn Rand? Given that we can use reason *without* making it into a phaith (unlike so many religious faiths), should we even be concerned? i.e. since reason can spread based on it's effectivness and "truth", do we *need* to develop it into a phaith in order to compete memetically?

<<
I think, from my POV, that the deciding factor should be something along the lines of a modification of behavior/beliefs resultant from the experience. (That keeps us out of the subject's head and on more objective footing for the time being.) So where (1) and (4) seem likely to imply such a change, (2) and (3) are less likely to do so. (Although if after having an orgasm you go from "This is just going to be a 'lay' " to "I love you, marry me!" I suppose that orgasm could fall in the "noŽtic" category somewhere.)
>>

Hmmm. I don't know. It seems to me you're pulling away from the nature of the experience and into area's of utility. I could have a mind shattering noŽtic experience, and yet have it not really affect my behaviour becuase *I'm already there*, if you get what I mean. Your system seems to ignore such *reinforcing* experiences, and I suspect that they are probably more common than ones which profoundly change people.

<< (re: gnosis)
Good question. Is the self-revelatory, "this is it!" nature of noŽtic experiences and phaith why they end up taking precedence in the mind over even more rational, yet less seemingly "genuine" descriptions
of the world?
>>

Perhaps. Your original definition included the words "authority out of time" (or something like that), which also sums that revelation up pretty well. I just finished reading _Island_, and it talked for a long while about such experiences somehow making the person feel that they had finally seen ultimate reality. It then mentioned that possibly Plato's realm of Platonic Ideals was based on the same sort of experience (ala the roman and greek mystery cults), and was never really a "dual" world at all, but more of an statement about how human experience the only world there is. It's not that there are two world -- the physical and the ideal -- but rather than there are two ways of preceiving the world, the usual and the noŽtic. Irregardless of Plato's original intent, I think it's an interesting intrepretation.

<<
It would be mighty handy for a species to develop a trait whereby those who come very, very, very close to "offing-it" radically re-focus all their behaviors--just to insure that that sort of thing doesn't happen to them again, if nothing else!
>>

Yes, that is a plausable mechanism for selection. Interestingly, the vocabulary we have even suggests it -- born again, rebirth, etc. Even an orgasm is called a "little death".

ERiC