This video series mixes footage from a presentation given to Ajeenkya D Y Patil University and my video-essay, and ultimately leads to the concluding statement, “Perfectly repeatable and connectable remembered-thoughts establish the means for perceiving causal relationships, more so than any remembered-external-event, and therefore causation most likely roots in remembered-thinking.”
Scroll below the videos for video-outlines of each part.
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Part 1: How the Conception of Units and their Infinite-Repeatability is rooted in Remembered-Thinking
00:18 – Introductory Statement:
“…as far as the propositions of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”*
– Albert Einstein, 1922
*First published 1921 by Julius Springer (Berlin) https://einsteinpapers.press.princeton.edu/vol7-trans/225
A quote remembered for what it says about the limits of human knowledge, but less remembered for what it says about the peculiar powers of a conscious mind, to perceive perfect certainty, such as mathematical proofs, despite living in an imperfect universe.
00:55 – Introducing myself, Andrew Malcolm, and my host, Dr. Vijayakumar Varadarajan and Ajeenkya D Y Patil University; and providing an overview of the workshop
02:43 – Reading the Music Festival Example:
If you wanted to fill in the details surrounding a memory of an event, like viewing a show at a music festival, what would you do? You could revisit the site of the festival, ask friends you went with to share stories, or see the same show again somewhere else, meet the performers, and ask about their perspectives. But what if you wanted to fill in the details surrounding the memory of a thinking-event, like a fantasy of yourself on the stage instead of the performers? You could repeat the fantasy again, this time with more awareness of what was happening in your mind during the visualization, but how would you know for sure that any of the qualities of the repeated fantasy match those of the first iteration? How would you know for certain you visualized the same sights, the same sounds, or experienced the same affiliated feelings, or even started and ended the fantasy the same way, with the same duration in between? For the memory from real life, you have people, things and events in the external universe that confirm for you the continuity between where the show took place, how long the show lasted, and who or what was involved, but nothing can confirm this kind of continuity for you in terms of your thinking-events. In fact, this experiment leads to an unanswerable question: how do you really know that you had any of the thoughts that you remember having?
04:07 – I state that remembered-thinking-events are defined by uncertainty, and introduce the exercise of comparing the real and fantasy music festival event-memories.
05:02 – Examining the memory of the real life event:
Memories of real events have a beginning and end, they have boundaries, but the boundaries are fuzzy.
The mind recognizes repeated events in the universe, but it also understands that events aren’t repeated perfectly, that repeatability in the external universe is only sort-of there.
We make deductions and inferences about the connections between events in the universe, but we know that are deductions and inferences are vulnerable to criticism from other people, and future evidence that may disprove our deductions.
08:52 – “This interlude presents Section 2 from my essay (“The Pressure of Light: how consciousness creates permanence in an infinite universe”*), which examines the nature of external-events-remembered.
12:29 – Examining the fantasy music festival event-memory:
I may believe that the visualization caused a feeling of excitement, but can’t prove this happened
I can repeat the fantasy over and over, and presume that I’ve done so in precisely the same way without the risk of disproof
I can perceive the boundaries surrounding the thinking event as perfect
15:35 – Summary of examination of each type of memory
The differences are important because our brains would have evolved according to the knowledge-generating nature of each memory-type
17:30 – Seeing a remembered thought, and two thoughts ago, and three thoughts ago, as analogous to nodes of communication in Claude Shannon’s “The Mathematical Theory of Communication”*. A similar increase in uncertainty makes it easier to perceive perfect iterations further and further back, so that infinite iterations are in fact easy to perceive.
19:55 – “This interlude presents Section 3 from my essay (“The Pressure of Light: how consciousness creates permanence in an infinite universe”*), which examines the nature of internal-events-remembered.
26:10 – Concluding with my thoughts on the introductory quote: “…as far as the propositions of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”*
– Albert Einstein, 1922
*First published 1921 by Julius Springer (Berlin) https://einsteinpapers.press.princeton.edu/vol7-trans/225
I propose that the nature of remembered-thinking explains how we are able to perceive systems that are perfect, such as what’s contained in mathematics, despite living in a universe not described by mathematics with perfect certainty.
Part 2: Why Albert Einstein liked David Hume
00:15 – Introductory quotes from Section 2 of “The Pressure of Light: how consciousness creates permanence in an infinite universe”*, from David Hume² and Albert Einstein³
02:26 – Explaining why Albert Einstein liked David Hume:
Hume’s writing on the indivisibility of space and time was likely inspiring to Einstein.
More importantly, Hume accomplished the difficult philosophical task of describing the human mind, from an epistemological standpoint, as an entity that begins learning about the universe without any pre-set knowledge or capacity to learn about the universe, aside from what static snapshots the senses provide.
08:05 – Some quotes from Einstein about David Hume
09:18 – Overview of how the experiments and my own ideas will be presented
10:12 – Hume’s introduction to his experiments:
For the premise of these experiments, let’s suppose I’m in the company of a person whom I formerly regarded without any sentiments either of friendship or hostility. The experiment therefore has the natural and ultimate objects for each set of passions. I myself am the proper object of pride or humility; the other person of love or hatred.
Imagine the four passions placed in a square, each occupying a corner. Pride and humility are connected together by the identity of their object, the self, and so it is with love and hatred and their object, some other person. These two lines of connection form two opposite sides of the square. The top and bottom are also connected: pride and love are passions experienced with an agreeable sensation; and hatred and humility are passions experienced with an uneasy sensation. I identify these connections with my definitions of ideas and impressions: pride is connected with humility, and love with hatred, (the sides of the square) by their objects or ideas; pride is connected with love, and humility with hatred, (the top and bottom of the square) by their sensations or impressions.
What I will prove with these experiments is that nothing can produce any of these passions without bearing that passion a double relation, one between the ideas and the object of the passion, and one between the sensation and the passion itself.
11:36 – Discussing the Passions as a philosophical subject in Hume’s time, and presenting my take on Hume’s definition of the Passions:
Passions are unique emotions-of-depth, are identified with specific experiences, and have the capacity to persist and return.
Part 3: Love, Hatred, and how Causation roots in Remembered-Thinking
00:25 – Introductory quote from Section 3 of “The Pressure of Light: how consciousness creates permanence in an infinite universe”*, from Albert Einstein²
02:28 – First of Hume’s experiments:
Imagine there is an object placed between myself and the other person that has no relation either of impressions or ideas to any of the passions. Suppose this object is an ordinary, flat pebble. It is evident that the pebble will not produce any of the four passions, but imagine each successively anyway, for the experiment. Neither love, hatred, humility or pride arises even in the smallest degree from the ordinary, flat pebble. If I change the pebble to another object, to any object that does not have a relationship with my passions through an idea or an impression, such as a stick or a clump of clay, I’ll find that no object, in the vast variety of nature, will, in any disposition, produce any passion without these relations.
03:28 – Overview of Hume’s “Impressions” and “Ideas”
05:20 – A helpful quote from the Treatise of Human Nature:
“The difference betwixt these consists in the degrees of force and liveliness, with which they strike upon the mind, and make their way into our thought or consciousness. Those perceptions, which enter with most force and violence, we may name impressions: and under this name I comprehend all our sensations, passions and emotions, as they make their first appearance in the soul. By ideas I mean the faint images of these in thinking and reasoning…I believe it will not be very necessary to employ many words in explaining this distinction. Every one of himself will readily perceive the difference betwixt feeling and thinking.”*
07:18 – My re-interpretation of the first experiment
The main change I make is to remove present-moment happenings in the description, so the impression of the pebble is now understood as a memory of awareness of the pebble.
08:40 – Second experiment:
What if I bestow on the object one of these relations? What will follow? If I understand that the ordinary, flat pebble belongs either to me or my companion, and by that means acquires a relation of ideas to the object of the passions, it is plain to see, considering the matter a priori, that I can expect to feel no emotion of any kind. A relation of ideas operates secretly and calmly on the mind, and because it operates secretly and calmly, it bestows an equal impulse towards the opposite passions of pride and humility, if the object belongs to me, and love and hatred, if the object belongs to my companion. Whether it belongs to myself or my companion, the opposition of the faintly felt emotions destroy each other, and leave the mind perfectly free from any affection or discomfort. This reasoning a priori is confirmed by experience. No trivial or ordinary object, that causes not a pain or pleasure, independent of the passion, will ever, by its property or other relations, either to ourselves or others, produce the affections of pride or humility, or love or hatred.
09:58 – Summary of experiment.
10:42 – Overview of Hume’s categorization of impressions and ideas into simple and complex.
11:27 – Quote from Hume: “All our simple ideas in their first appearance are derived from simple impressions, which are correspondent to them, and which they exactly represent”*
11:36 – Explaining the difference between simple and complex as the difference between a shoe and an awesome shoe.
14:06 – Re-interpretation of the second experiment: the present-moment concept of the mind passing from one thought to another is re-interpreted as the past-experience of the mind remembering the analysis of the relationship between two-thought-memories.
16:27 – Third Experiment:
It is evident, therefore, that a relation of ideas is not able alone to give rise to these affections. I will now remove this relation, and in its position place a relation of impressions, by presenting an elegant vase, as well as a dirty piece of cloth. One object is agreeable, the other disagreeable, but neither has a relation either to myself or my companion. Now I will observe the consequences. To consider the matter first a priori, as in the preceding experiment, I may conclude that the vase or the cloth will have a small, but uncertain connection with the passions. This relation is not a cold and imperceptible one, it does not have the same inconvenience of a relation with ideas, like the pebble owned by myself or my companion, and therefore does not direct me with equal force to two contrary passions, which by their opposition destroy each other.
My perception of the vase transitions from sensation to affection, but not by any principle that produces a transition of ideas; on the contrary, that the perception of the vase transfuses into an affection that can so easily be eliminated by replacing the beautiful vase with the ordinary, flat pebble, or transfused into a feeling of discomfort if replaced by the dirty piece of cloth, I can infer that any object connected to my passions solely by a relation of impressions will never be a steady or durable cause of any passion.
What I conclude from this analogy, after balancing the arguments, is that an object, which produces pleasure or uneasiness, but has no manner of connection either with myself or others, is that it may give my disposition such a turn that it may naturally fall into pride or love, or humility or hatred, but then search for some other object that has a double relation through ownership of beauty, or some other mix of impression and idea, on which my disposition can found its affections; and I conclude that an object, which has only one of these relations, even the most advantageous one, can never give rise to any constant and established passion.
My conclusions are conformable to experience and the phenomenon of the passions. Suppose I were traveling with a companion through a country to which we are both utter strangers. It is evident that if the prospects are beautiful, the roads agreeable, and the inns commodious, the country may put me into good humour both with myself and fellow-traveler. But since this country has no relation either to myself or my friend, it can never be the immediate cause of pride or love. If my feeling does not fall onto some other aspect of the country that bears a close relation to either myself or my friend, my emotions will remain nothing but the overflowings of an elevated or humane disposition, rather than an established passion.
19:20 – Summary of the experiment
20:24 – Discussing the purpose of the experiment: showing that the cause of the passions inevitably comes from the internal conscious space, not the external universe.
21:20 – Overview of Hume’s three fundamental connections between thoughts: contiguity, resemblance, and causal, and introducing how my perspective of thought connections relate
24:53 – Fourth Experiment
Having found, that neither an object without any relation of ideas or impressions, nor an object, that has only one relation, can ever cause pride or humility, or love or hatred, reason alone may convince me, without any further experiment, that whatever has a double relation must necessarily excite these passions, since a double relationship must result from some cause. But to leave as little room for doubt as possible, I will continue my experiments.
Consider a letter of promotion before me, an object that represents virtue, and consider that it causes a separate sensation of satisfaction. On this object I bestow a relation to self, the promotion is mine, and find, that from this disposition of affairs, there immediately arises a passion. But what passion? That very one of pride, to which this letter bears a double relation. Its idea is related to that of self, the object of the passion. The sensation it causes is the sensation of the passion. That I may be sure I am not mistaken in this experiment, I remove first one relation, the pleasant feeling associated with promotion, then another, the idea that the promotion is mine, and find that each removal destroys the passion, and leaves the object perfectly indifferent.
But I am not content with this, and make still a further trial: instead of removing the relation, I only change it for one of a different kind. I suppose the promotion to belong to my companion, not to myself, and observe what follows from this alteration. I immediately perceive the affections to wheel about, and leaving pride, where there is only one relation, the pleasantness associated with promotion, my affections fall to the side of love, where there is the double relation of impressions and ideas, the idea of the promotion’s relationship with my companion. By repeating the same experiment, changing anew the relation of ideas so that the promotion is once again mine, I bring the affections back to pride; and by a new repetition and change of ideas I again place them at love or kindness.
Now fully convinced of the influence of this relation, I try exchanging virtue for vice, changing the letter of promotion for a letter of termination, converting the pleasant impression, which arises from the former, into the disagreeable one, which proceeds from the latter. The effect is still the same. The vice represented by the letter of termination, when the recipient is my companion, excites, by means of its double relations, the passion of hatred instead of love. To continue the experiment, I change anew the relation of ideas, and suppose the letter of termination to belong to myself. What follows? A subsequent change of the passion from hatred to humility. This humility I could convert into pride by a new change of the impression, by changing the letter of termination back to a letter of promotion. In this way I have brought back the passion to that very situation in which I first found it: pride.
But to make the matter still more certain, I alter the object; and instead of vice and virtue, make the trial upon beauty and deformity, or riches and poverty, or power and servitude. Each of these objects runs the circle of the passions in the same manner, by a change of their relations; and in whatever order we proceed, whether through pride, love, hatred, and humility, or through humility, hatred, love, and pride, the experiment is not in the least diversified. Esteem and contempt, indeed, arise on some occasions instead of love and hatred; but these are at the bottom the same passions, only diversified by some causes, which I will explain later.
28:24 – Summary of the experiment
29:05 – My reinterpretation of the experiment: the passing of the mind’s attention is reinterpreted as an analysis of either causal relationships or contextual relationships between thoughts. The present-moment passing is reinterpreted as a backwards movement from the point of view of remembering.
30:43 – Discussing how my description of relationships between thoughts does not replace Hume’s relationships between impressions and ideas, because while Hume refers to the relationships between the content of thought, I’m refer to the relationships between thoughts themselves.
32:24 – Why observing our own thoughts may be the source of causal relationships, not the external universe.
34:00 – Discussing Hume’s assertion about causal relationships, that they can’t be observed in the external universe, only inferred through internal processing, and only after seeing the causal-object and effected-object repetitively in contiguity in time and space.
36:48 – A relevant quote from Hume:
“’Tis therefore by experience only, that we can infer the existence of one object from that of another. The nature of experience is this. We remember to have had frequent instances of the existence of one species of objects; and also remember, that the individuals of another species of objects have always attended them, and have existed in a regular order of contiguity and succession with regard to them. Thus we remember to have seen that species of object we call flame, and to have felt that species of sensation we call heat. We likewise call to mind their constant conjunction in all past instances. Without any farther ceremony, we call the one cause and the other effect, and infer the existence of the one from that of the other.”*
37:33 – Summarizing Hume’s conception of causal relationships
38:17 – How Hume’s conception of causal relationships are important to my assertions about thoughts: because I’ve identified the ease in which the mind can perceive infinite repetitions of remembered thoughts, this makes those remembered thoughts strong contenders for the source of causal relationships, if Hume is right about the necessity of repetition of objects of cause-and-effect in memory.
40:02 – Concluding Statement:
Perfectly repeatable and connectable remembered-thoughts establish the means for perceiving causal relationships, more so than any remembered-external-event, and therefore causation most likely roots in remembered-thinking.
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