Math Buddha's Blather

Uh, I don't know, just read it and see for yourself.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Is that all I know how to do? Ask questions?

And what would someone do if they had it all to do over? Wouldn't they just do it all over again? Even if they did alter some minor details, would it make a shattering difference in their lives? Some find it comforting to blame their situations on circumstances, but the fact remains: to do different, one must be different. Despite superficial variations, we would always still arrive in the same place, would we not? And if not, how could we remain ourselves? Is that what a person who wants it all to "do over" is really after? Even taken to that extreme, if I became another person, would that person regard me? Would he be happier? Are you happier than I am?


I occasionally hear people describe a desire to "get outside of themselves", but I wonder where it is that they are trying to get out there? And if they were "outside of themselves" how would they know? What landmarks would they use to navigate in this foreign country of the spirit? Has it occured to them that, like Will Navidson's house, the mansions of our spirits have many rooms? And it might be that in moving from one room to the next, they only imagine that they have gone "outside"? And if they were indeed "outside of themselves" who would they then be? I must conclude that the experience they truly seek is merely that of themselves, but a self that is rarely expressed. How then shall they presume to instruct me?

Friday, July 01, 2005

More pointless verbiage

Consider a proton. A small bundle of mass and electrical charge. Those are its only properties of note. Several protons might get together with some neutrons and protons to form, say, an oxygen atom. Oxygen has the mass of all of those particles, and the charge is the sum of its parts. But it now has a shape of sorts as well. It has electron orbitals. As oxygen, this atom has certain chemical properties. At standard temperature and pressure, it is a gas. It's very reactive and likes to combine with most anything to form compounds. You could describe that as its motivation. Combine a few oxygens, some hydrogens and some carbons and you might form glucose. Glucose is a simple sugar, and stores considerable chemical energy in a very efficient package, which is why it's the primary fuel for our bodies. But what makes it up? You could count the number of protons, electrons, and neutrons in a glucose molecule. All of the properties of glucose result from its particular arrangement of those building blocks, the same gravitational, electromagnetic, strong and weak attractions and repulsions that motivate all of its tiny constituents. Does a proton in such a construct regard or have any knowledge of the whole? Is the molecule "aware" of the needs of its protons?

Moving up further, a large bundle of sugars, proteins, cholesterols, nucleic acids, et cetera often becomes a cell. A muscle cell say. What properties are now present? Through the coding of the genetic material in the nucleus, the cell knows how to replicate itself, how to breathe, and how to react to being stimulated by a neuron. When the signal comes down the line, the cell pulls. Does it know what it is pulling? Does it think about how it pulls? Does it even know that in breathing, it is shuffling ATP and ADP back and forth? And what do these muscle cells form? A human heart perhaps? What might the heart's scope of awareness be? It is, in fact, little more than a fluid pump. As the signals come in from the brain, it squeezes and releases, endlessly. Does the heart know what a foot is? Does the heart understand the Krebs Cycle that powers each cell that the heart pumps blood past, including the heart muscle itself? Does the heart, as an organ, know it's own genetic matrix?

At this organizational level, more complicated questions arise. When food is deposited in the stomach, the stomach kicks into gear to digest, requiring more blood for more power. But suppose you go for a jog after dinner. The stomach may not receive enough blood to digest the food efficiently. If digestion is inadequate, the stomach sends out a pain signal to the brain, warning that the system is out of balance. Meantime, the various smooth muscles on the arteries and veins continue to route blood to the legs for running power. The brain must choose between these two demands. These sorts of conflicts go on in our bodies all of the time.

What does the stomach "know"? Does it know that it is made up of water molecules, proteins, et cetera? Is it merely aware of the chemical makeup of its contents in a crude way, by enzyme action? Does the stomach have any concept of what a pancreas is? Or indeed even of where the food goes after it pumps it out? Or where food comes from?

All of these organs and systems constitute a human. But what does this human know? What does this human want? Can it be only one thing? Or fifty? Doesn't each of the countless sub-elements have its own agenda? All of the demands of gravity, chemical attraction, organ function et cetera clamor for attention constantly. Do these demands understand each other? Are they even aware of each other?

Considering all this, when a proud human stand up and declares "I", what does this represent?