... remembering back to a philosophy of religion class I took years ago where we read snippets (and snippets only, thankfully) of one of T. Aquinas' works. The man obsessed over every detail of the nature of resurrection doctrine, the nature of angels, and so forth. So there I sat dumbstruck as a few of my classmates argued about these details. ....
How can I pass this up? Aiki AND Thomas...
Peter Goldsbury wrote:
I think that even constructing the sorites, if it is indeed that kind of paradox, is a major problem.
Though I have spent many hours discussing these issues with Ellis, I do not normally participate in these AikiWeb discussions, for they remind me too much of the fruitless (and endless) theological arguments I had before I began aikido ... the paradox that experiences both are and are not self-validating in an important way. So detailed discussions about intent, and how it guides whatever it is supposed to guide, are not convincing.
Theology, sorites and perception paradoxes ... OK you broke me...
Oddly, given the attention to the issue of "intent" on this subject there is much more connection among these things than one may imagine -- through the work of Walter Freeman on neurodynamics.
Freeman viewed the Thomistic framework as the best metaphysical foundation for his neurodynamics
and the mind-body problem of perception, will and action.
Walter Freeman wrote:
St. Thomas,"Summa Theologica" wrote:
Now whatever knows certain things cannot have any of them in its own nature, because that which is in it naturally would impede the knowledge of anything else
The last sentence in the quote above is difficult to grasp, but it is crucial, I believe, to the contribution of Aquinas. It says, I think, that the separate and immediate impacts of repeated stimuli onto receptors, and through them into the brain, do not establish in the brain either the actual forms of those stimuli or their derivatives as episodic memories. They are the individual and transient forms of matter. If the brain were to collect and save all of those impressions streaming in from all senses, the brain could not know anything. A signicant part of the energy that brains expend is used for habituation, by which unwanted and irrelevant bombardment of the senses is attenuated.
Brains try to admit only that which serves them well. Brains operate on their inputs by creative acts that make abstract forms, which constitute their knowledge about the stimuli. But the forms of that knowledge do not exist in the stimuli or vice versa.
Freeman's essay is, among other things, a frank acknowledgement of the unintended barriers that any body of learning, whether science or technical art, sets for itself when it dispenses with philosophy or a coherent effort to work out the physical and metaphysical basis of the subject in question. The problem is innate because our brains try to weed out what is "unessential" -- Intellectual work less constrained by "how we know what we know" is necessary to draw out alternate or additional (and simultaneous) perceptions we have overridden -- like the optical illusions of two faces vice a goblet. This is the value of St. Thomas -- and of careful observation and thinking, generally. Bad doctrine creates illusory problems and stymies development because of illusory borders that are self-induced -- or features that are -- <<right there>> and yet we exclude from our perception.
Someone once spoke of theology by saying that the love of God is chocolate and doctrine is the box. -- The box is not the chocolate -- but it is necessary to preserve the knowledge of the chocolate for those that have never seen or tasted it, and to ensure safe transmission and handling of the knowledge without making things a sticky mess. It is at least as important that the box be labelled correctly to know what it contains, and something of its value, as it is that it actually contain chocolate. A box labelled "Lye" should not be used for chocolate, or no one would dare try it. And a box labelled "Chocolate" should contain some chocolate, or people just get pissed at being lied to. The IP/IS crowd has lodged their complaints mainly at the latter fault -- but the former is just as much a problem, and not a trivial one.
I have maintained for some time that the nature of ki
is the potential and operation of oscillatory dynamics -- a view which has significant bio-mechanical implications. Aiki relates in precisely definable ways to that basic premise about how to capture the ki
concept in a purely Western idiom without losing its essential meaning and application.
The issue of what and how we perceive what happens in action and how it relates to what actually is occurring in an objective causal sense is fraught with problems especially at the speed of reflexive action
(which aiki provokes, exploits and utilizes).
operate at ~10 Hz -- which happens to be the natural or resonant frequency (or its first harmonic) of the human body. Most interestingly in the context of neurodynamics is that this is in the middle of the alpha wave activity frequency band (8-12Hz) which is indicative of undifferentiated awareness -- a highly martial concern-- and also mu waves which are sensorimotor rhythms at 8-13Hz.
Mu wave patterns are indicative of priming motor signals ("intent") and have a complex and interrelation with mirror neurons associated with socializaton and learning -- and specifically play a role in mapping movements of others into the brain without actually physically performing the movements -- another aspect of "intent".
I find these relationships of oscillatory similarity not at all coincidental -- one of things I have learned in the issue of sente
is that proper time is neither conscious anticipation, which can be wrong and often too early; nor reaction, which is often too late; but reflexive or reflective timing -- like a mirror. And it seems hardly like "timing" at all once you train to it.
The chocolate tastes wonderful -- but to hand it on we still need a box for it.