Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Letter to my Cousin - my virtual inner world

My dear cousin,  

you asked "our inner worlds, real in the end"? Let's resume:

My inner world is real but outside reality. Reality is simply my outer world, namely: Reality is an outer world in opposition to my inner, imagined or virtual world of thoughts, memories or feelings. Reality, the outer world is mutable through me, it is world in which I can reproduce ideas that I draw from my inner world. It is independent of me as individual and my culture. It is acquired by methods that are independent of my believe, culture and lifestyle, and the applicability of my understanding of reality is independent from me as a user.” (1)

"Interesting concept, but your concept of "reality" suffers from the fact that it eradicates from it the world of feelings, and even culture. That goes against experience of life. A more appropriate definition of "reality" should include the ponder-able difficult, the imprecise, the unpredictable and the irrational. Otherwise your world would be without taste or fun, and possibly a world without respect for the other.” (2)

"Well, if we add feelings, ideas and other "content" of our inner world together with the systems that support our information processing, into the notion of "reality", then there are so many realities as there are intelligent beings (e.g. Humans if we take an anthropocentric view). That does not seem helpful to survive.. We should describe this inner worlds of us in a different manner, just to incorporate appropriately the ponder-able difficult, fuzzy and unpredictable." (3)

Admittedly, my dear cousin,

Karkun Ukko
I make a choice in applying that (1) notion of “reality”. Admitted too, other notions of reality (2) are more “en vouge”; humans are discussing “meta-physic” since ages and make and made different choices. I make that particular choice, because I think, in my inner world, that it matters. It matters I think, because is helps to understand, to act, and to respect. And I value, in my inner world, the capability to understand, to act, and to respect.

Let's step back. We "humans are intuitive dualists in the sense that we feel our self to be owner of the body, but we are not the same as our bodies" [1]. Thoughts, feelings, ideas are real, somehow, but how? Thoughts, feelings, ideas are part of our self-contentiousness that too is part of our inner world (3).  

Practice and cooperation is the key to understand the choice that I favor. The interaction between our inner world and our outer world, thus what I like to name “reality”, may be functional or dysfunctional depending on the outcome of actions - outcome as it is occurring in the outer world. However, whether an interaction is perceived by a person as functional or dysfunctional depends on the actor's or observer's “view”. Thus it is relative. Being functional or dysfunctional is a value statement “operated” in the respective inner world, when the outcome of an action is assessed.

Value statements are not innocent and they are genuine to the inner world. Value statements matter if cooperation between actors, thus common practice is relevant. Thus understanding of reality, and in the end “understanding what is reality” matters to the degree that cooperation and common practice is needed. Cooperation and common practice among humans is needed to live together and to reproduce. This imperative of cooperation and common practice makes it necessary for humans to have a common view on reality; at least for the specific group of humans that has to cooperate at a certain time and space.  

Venus von Willersdorf in different context
Conceptually, such a group has the options to forge the same inner world (in all its members) or to limit cooperation to individuals having very similar inner world. Then their action would be common. However, for that closed group (of “believers” having a similar inner world) remains the issue how the outer world reacts to its actions. Notwithstanding side-effects, as long as this reaction (of the outer world) does not jeopardize the ability of that group to reproduce, and this in the plain biological sense of the notion as well as in the cultural sense of the notion, their live could go on. Matters getting complex if one closed group is impossible to set up; what is a feature of the world in which we live; the emerging global vilage.  

Thus it seems to be more practical, than “forge the same inner world”, to take the most simple option, namely: "Reality" is the outer world in opposition to our inner, imagined or virtual world of thoughts, memories or feelings; and to respect the differences of inner worlds as individual traits. 

We all have the necessary experiences to take this option: We know that our body is a system that supports processing of information captured by our senses. We know that our senses are different, limited and not of same quality for all individuals. We know that our body in turns the received information into feelings, ideas etc. thus into our rich inner world. Thus we should modernize our notions and take feelings, ideas as “content” of inner world.

In context of information technology the word “content” is used to distinguish the “inner world of ideas, messages...” from the physical systems (computer) that processes the information that in turn is representing the content. Does this make “content” without taste and fun? Does this make "content" to a part of reality? No!  Does "content" has impact? Yes!

Cave paintings Altamira
Intelligent beings, e.g. humans debating what is reality since ancient times. Our Mediterranean-centric culture traces that discussion back for some thousand years. Research indicates that human beings handle symbolic content since late paleolithic times. Firm evidence shows that humans of the homo sapience species, first in Africa, as well as late Neanderthals were capable to handle a sort of symbolic representations that underpins language, art and religion. Thus they had an “inner world”.

Its speculative how much older is this human trait. Possibly it was a key evolutionary advantage that our body evolved a system, namely brain and nerves, which process information about the "reality" in an inner, virtual world of its own dynamic. That world has a fantastic flexibility, which may deliver a wide range of feelings, concepts and ideas and our body provides the means to express them. We can test these feelings, concepts and ideas in cooperative manner with other intelligent beings. We talk, act and shape objects; thus we modulate reality. Our fellow human beings are subject to these actions, process the information that their senses capture about these actions, processes further this information in their inner worlds, and react. And culture emerges through cooperation.  

Thus, my dear cousin, I make a choice in applying this notion of “reality” (1). I make that particular choice, because I think, in my inner world, that it matters (2). It matters because is helps to understand, to act, and to respect. So that the common global village can be a nice place for us (3).

with Ukko's best wishes,
your Cousin

[1] quoted by Ilkka Pyyisäinen, Marc Hauser (2009) "The origins of religion: evolved adaptation or by-product" (Http:.// from Bloom, P. (2004) "Descartes Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes us Human"


  1. Dear cousin Ukko,

    if God exists, things are simple. If he said “jehi ur”, let there be light, and if light shone up afterwards, then words for “light”, for “become” grow easily along with the natural character of the existing things. But if Prometheus has to work for himself to create order out of the chaos around him, then words get a kind of work themselves. They get dark and earthy, they still carry the black soil with them out of which they were formed.

    That is why your words, beloved promethean cousin, are dark and hard to understand. You do not only self-create an outer world you create an inner world, too, and you complicate it. You complicate it most of all in planting God into that inner world although he naturally belongs to the very beginning of the outer world.

    Now, nobody knows for certain whether God does exist or not. The clearness of the many spoken words in his favor is a hint for his existence. The darkness of your words is a hint that something is wrong with a Prometheus that does not only invent the fire in his oven but also the population of his own soul.

    Try simple words – and maybe God will show up!

    United in the struggle for light
    Yours ever
    Cousin C.

    1. Dear Cousin

      your name is programme, that's known, plain and fair.

      I understand too, that much of my thinking seems to you dark, complicated and possibly leaving too many questions without answer. Nevertheless my thinking is simple, applying straight reasoning - down to earth. Its start is experience, where it is firm, and its end is open...

      Sapere aude!