Friday, October 5, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Yoga and The Natural World (AAAP36N).
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Dear reader, above is a new link to the pdf on the philosophy of yoga referred to in many of my posts below (thus, in those posts, please disregard older links to various versions of this my main document on the yoga). Perhaps some other links in earlier posts will also malfunction (as time goes by I look forward to having updated them all).
At present I am reediting this manuscript, "Yoga and The Natural World", which collects pieces I've written on the yoga and on our understanding of nature. I have tried to organize those texts into some semblance of stringency of development of context which is: paradigm, metaphor, and wholity of yoga (well, the yogic method is my particular stance, and yet I hold a naturalistic worldview and have therefore added a few thoughts on Science, and some other odds an' ends). I keep updating the main document now and then and everytime I open it up I find there is something in need of correction, or something to add (or delete), but, somehow, seemingly, it's all nearing completion.
So, here again, is the latest link straight to the new version:
Yoga and The Natural World (AAAP36M).
(Opens in a new window.)
This link will open a pdf (16 MB) in your browser (at least it does so in my IE, in my Chrome it don't, with Chrome I have to download it first. Hm?). For some other writings of mine have a look in my 'Books' folder at my Windows Live SkyDrive (you'll find download links there for all the books I am working on).
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Been a while since I posted here but having written a bit on yoga here an' there all over the cyber and having directed any potential, click-fingery reader here I'd like to take the opportunity to direct any reader with a deeper interest in the things I write about to one of my other blogs, "Another Albatross Goes Arundo".
On that blog I have collected some of my writings and engagments in the field of yoga. Have a look at the post: A few Pointers to some of my Yoga Stuff here in Cyberspace. You'll also find an animated Powerpoint slide show there, of about an half hours length, that discusses the nature of yoga and provides an heuristic metaphor I've dubbed "The Tree of Life" with which to understand and grasp the wholity of yoga. See this link: The Nature of Yoga.
For a bit 'a completness here I will again plug my (yet unpublished, first unrevised edition—a second revised edition is in the works) book on the paradigmatic nature of yoga (which I mention in the posting below). The Paradigm of Yoga: Rest & Activity.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
(Updated: 10 December 2008, 17:30 GMT+01:00.)
Monday, August 4, 2008
(Updated: 9 May 2010, 13:37, GMT+01:00.)
(This collation on a few roilin', boilin', wild ideas of the scientific community I posted a few days ago, at The Subsymbolist Forum in the category 'Theories of Consciousness' under the heading "Edwards/Sevush - Single Neuron Theory of Consciousness". At first my text there was somewhat loosely formatted then I straightened that up, yet this text here will be my master document, which I will edit now and then if needs be.)
(The emphases made in the quotes below are by me. /Albatross)
The idea of Neuronal Single Cell Consciousness has also been worked upon by Dr. Steven Sevush (1), and thus there are more handles to grasp in this than but the one point 'a view. As Edwards puts it (from the formal paper, see below), "... I discovered that Steven Sevush has come to much the same conclusion as myself from a different standpoint, specifically addressing the neuroanatomical feasibility of cellular consciousness".
Edwards general thoughts on this grand idea are here:
"Single Cell Consciousness" (2),
and a formal paper by Edwards on this, first published in The Journal of Consciousness Studies, is here:
"Is Consciousness only a property of the Single Cell?” (3).
Dr. Sevush paper is here:
"The Single Neuron Theory of Consciousness" (1)
I should, ought to, must, some day, attempt an essay on this idea, if only but for to see for to see how much understanding on this alluring theory I myself am able to span and express coherently, yet the idea of a single cell bearing awareness, in the terms stated by Edwards is indeed intriguing. Here's a quote from the beginning of the article of the first link above:
"Perhaps the most baffling unanswered question in science is how the physical working of the brain gives rise to conscious awareness. There are several reasons for this question being difficult, but the most important may be that we are looking for the wrong sort of answer. Almost everyone assumes that we are trying to explain one copy of awareness in each person's brain, one observer, one subject; one consciousness. However, as William James pointed out in 1890, having one copy of awareness in a brain makes very little sense, whether in terms of logic, physics or neurology. It would make much more sense if there were lots of copies and lots of subjects, even if it seems odd. There is also a basic biological reason for there being many subjects in a brain; a brain is not a single life unit but a colony of cellular life units which are not joined together by any mysterious 'life force'.
The hypothesis of Single Cell Consciousness (also known as the Single Neuron Theory of Consciousness) arose from the simple strategy of trying to find an explanation for awareness that fits with what we know about the physics of the brain. There appears to be only one option that works; that each brain cell is aware separately. Although this may seem to conflict with our experience it almost certainly does not."
Well. Now ain't that a change in perspective! As one continues to study the backgrounds to this conclusion, well delineated in the referred papers of Edwards and Sevush, one zooms in on the wave bearing properties of cell membranes, and the nature of a wave as carrier of 'rich' information, as does sound.
Thinking along these lines I, in surfing around, found another interesting li'l idea that tangents the study of consciousness, this idea I found in linguistics: on the nature of phonemes (which I'll get to in a moment, see section II below). It seems, to me, that there must be a relevance of correspondence with these simples as regards the Single Cell Stuff of Professor Edwards. In short. Is there a dynamic to the phonon that is mirrored by the phoneme? (This be but a bit of hariolatory that I wildly develop towards the end of section II below, meanwhile have a look at the nitty gritty of the actual physicalities of things, see next quote.)
Yes, before I get on to the phonemic thingy let's have a second quote from Professor Edwards, this time from the formal article, where it is explained how the elastic wave of the neuron is seen as being able to bear the characteristics of a 'phonon', a quanta of sound, as in a bell-ring. From the section, "Which indivisible perturbations might carry our consciousness?" (4):
"The hypothesis seems to make two requirements of a wave that might endow the neuronal membrane as a whole with sentience linked to behaviour. Firstly, a wave with access to information about the state at all synapses would need its wavefront (or domain of non-trivial amplitude) to occupy the whole neuronal dendritic tree. This would seem to require a reverberating wave with time to make several passes – like the resonation of the bell. In Vitiello's (2001) terms it would be a long range correlation. Secondly, to be describable as a quantised field it probably needs to be energy conserving, at least to a first approximation.
It is not clear that a purely electrical wave with these features exists. The basic Hodgkin-Huxley wave is a simple damped, dissipative biphasic packet. Fröhlich (1968) suggested an electromechanically coupled wave in which electrical and elastic potential were exchanged. He suggested that this wave might be a Bose-Einstein condensate, but this seems unlikely and is as far as I can see unnecessary. There is no doubt, however, that electromechanical coupling can occur in neuronal membranes. As shown by Iwasa et al. (1980), an action potential is associated with a mechanical wave. Petrov (1999) has shown that as polar planar liquid crystals, cell membranes generate biologically relevant voltages when flexed and vice versa. This is a form of piezoelectricity, called flexoelectricity, involving coupling of phonons to an electrical field. At least in isolated sheets of membrane modes of electromechanical perturbation can be established. Of note, there is increasing interest in electromechanical coupling as fundamental to the way cells sense their environment and respond through opening and closing ion channels (Zhang et al., 2001; Kumanovics et al., 2002). It has been suggested that this might be particularly relevant to sites of membrane curvature such as neuronal dendritic spines (Zhang et al., 2001)."
Neurons; public domain, digital enhancment by Pinkers.
Then I happened onto a site dedicated to the study of phonemes, the minutest coherent quanta of words, the sounds of the letters as such, a study which leads on to an idea of archetypally associated inherent meanings to these minuties, the phonemes. That site is the work of linguist Margaret Magnus (who has written a Dictionary of English Sound and works from Norway). Here's a link to, "Margo's Magical Letter Page" (5). And here's a link to Ms. Magnus dissertation "What's in a Word? Studies in Phonosemantics" (6); from here it is possible to download the whole dissertation as a pdf.
Here be an excerpt from the abstract:
"Individual phonemes and phonetic features are meaning-bearing. They each have a unique semantics which can be identified by first measuring the semantic disproportions within phonologically defined classes of words and then the converse -- measuring the phonological disproportions within semantic classes. One finds in this way that every word which contains a given phoneme bears an element of meaning which is absent in words not containing this phoneme. One finds further than the effect of the phoneme-meaning varies with the position that the phoneme bears within the syllable. In addition, one finds that all phonemes which have a common phonetic feature also have a common element of meaning."
On Ms. Magnus main site there is an interesting allusion, she connects the sound elements of words to Archetypal characteristics:
"About 300 hours into this research, you start losing your mind. You start imagining you discern archetypes in all those consonants and vowels. (Ho, ho!) For your confoundment and entertainment, I now proffer some data on the serpent in /s/ and the Grail in /g/.
In truth, I believe data of this type to be incredibly important. What it says essentially is that the consonants and vowels do in fact have a meaning. The most fundamental aspect of that meaning is pure sound without any interpretation or symbolism. That pure sound is meaningful (and how!). But one step above that most fundamental and pure sound-meaning is the archetypal meaning. Since the consonants and vowels form the foundation of the word - not only of its sound, but also of its meaning, then we literally talk in terms of archetypes. Every word is a sound - a shruti note - on which are superimposed a collection of gods whose interaction forms the basis of the word. It is really like that. It is poetic, but it is also cold, sober fact. What is added on top of that - the semantic class and the referent is secondary to sound and archetype.
And so, friends, I bid you observe how the mighty serpent abides in English S and informs every word that contains it."
This link "Archetypes" (7), from, the left frame on Ms. Magnus' main site, will bring you directly to this discussion. (Clickin' in from the main page though keeps the sites' frame structure intact.)
I think this is all quite fascinating (and would allow for plenty mucho of that hariolatory) and as I have Prof. Edwards 'phononic' waves, of the elastic type, actuated in my thinking apparatus I find the two ideas somehow merging, but I'm not really able, yet, to explain the correlations I feel arise from these two ideas, the ‘Phononic' thingy’ and the 'Phonemeistic' one. When I read Prof. Edwards recent article, "Are our Spaces Made of Words?" (8) in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol.15, No.1, January 2008 (subscribers only), I felt a strenghtening of this felt correlation, even though Edwards does not refer to the work of Ms. Magnus. Yet the title itself, full of spaces, words, somehow suggest a connectivity of sorts. I think I'll do another post on all this, as time goes by.
Meanwhile, for a deeper delving into all this, I recommend Professor Edwards book on these ideas. It has quite an humorous title: "How many people are there in my head? And in hers?", 2006 (9). The first readers review (at Amazon, to where the link above points) by Nina Newton is very laudatory of Edwards ideas. "I suggest that Edwards' ideas may be some of the most important of the 21st Century. In the way that the ideas of Galileo and Darwin did, they have the potential to change the way we look at everything. Written in the first person in conversational tone, this book is peppered with humour and is renaissance in scope."
I hope that I by this collating of a few modern ideas on the nature of consciousness that allow for a biological foundation for that most prominent of lifes features available to us – cognitivity – that I may thus have engendered a spark of interest in you, my reader, for the further study of this Single Neuron Theory of Consciousness. I'll conclude my mere ponderings on these themes with a quote from the introductory statements of the abovementioned book by Jonathan Edwards, from page 2:
"I am fairly sure that I am writing this for millions of seaparate, aware 'listeners' in your head, each one receiving a copy of your story, and its sense of identity, but completely unaware of the of the awareness of the others, each one a single nerve cell. This may sound as science fiction, and you can treat it as such if you like, but my path of enquiry over the last five years leads me to be fairly sure that each cell in your brain is aware separately and that that is the only sort of awareness you have."
Yes. Well. I'll cut off here - there's still 'The Entropic Theory of Life' to consider and possibly weave in into all this, but I've lost the link so I'll have to search arundo a bit.
1. Single-Neuron Theory of Consciousness: Steven Sevush, 2004.
2. Single Cell Consciousness: Jonathan C.W. Edwards, 2005.
3. Is Consciousness Only a Property of Individual Cells?: Jonathan C.W. Edwards, 2005.
4. Is Consciousness Only a Property of Individual Cells?: Jonathan C.W. Edwards, 2005. See the section: "Which indivisible perturbations might carry our consciousness?".
5. Margos' Magical Letter Page: Margaret Magnus, 2001.
6. What's in a Word? Studies in Phonosemantics: Margos' Magical Letter Page: Margaret Magnus, 2001.
7. Archetypes in the Consonants: Margaret Magnus, 2001.
8. Are our Spaces Made of Words?: Jonathan C.W. Edwards, The Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol.15, No.1, January 2008.
9. How any people are there in my head? And in hers?: Jonathan C.W. Edwards, 2006, Imprint Academic, ISBN 1-84540-072-0.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
First entry of mine here. I 'll keep this one short as I haven't even seen yet whatta me new blog here looks like. Been writin' all day on the forum mentioned below.
The exploration of consciousness has been a fascination of mine for a long time. A few days ago the subsymbolist forum went on-line and suddenly I'm involved uppa my ears. Have a look. Click 'a the link.