Friday, July 31, 2015

Role of Philosphy

It's important that philosophy better daily life. Otherwise it's just an exercise in mental masturbation. Science and religion have done a wonderful job describing specifically how to change daily life, or provide changes (and hopefully betterments) to daily life via engineering and morality respectively.

But what about philosophy? This is how I see philosophy's role in our understanding of the world:

The abstract thinking of science has improved daily concrete life through technology. Developed from understanding of biology, from psychology, or from methods for engineering.

But what about some of the subjective data? The data which we experience (or at least think we experience) but for which there is little measurable data? Examples include death and free will. Therein lies the benefit of philosophy. By using logic and our subjective experiences, philosophy can offer changes in worldviews leading to a different interpretation of death Or by understanding our awareness of our emotions, we can choose to interpret them differently. Or by believing in the concept of choice or willpower, we can implement changes in daily life resulting from optimism, empowerment, and changes in our daily habits.

That's why, at the end of several blog posts, I try to describe how a given philosophical idea can change one's daily life.  For example, at the end of my Field of Choice post, I described how the concepts of anxiety and depression can be reinterpreted given this idea. At the end of my thoughts on adaptation, I made sure to describe how the concept can be used to make sustainable improvements towards one's goals. It's important that philosophy better daily life.

But now let's consider for a moment the concept of emotions. They are a unique concept since they are one of the pieces of data which are currently on the move from a subjective experience to measurable data. Emotions used to be simply a subjective experience, with philosophical wonderings abound. But as we, as a people, learned more about the world, we started to measure neurotransmitters and hormone levels, and to become aware of their effects on this elusive subjective experience of emotions.

There is a trend. As society develops, more and more data moves from the form of subjective data towards measurable data. The pretty dots in the night sky used to be just the subjective experience of photons hitting our eyes. But as we developed the telescope (and more sophisticated variations nowadays), we saw the luminance of stars and planets.

It's in these moments, when experiences move from subjective to measurable, that philosophy has to keep up or be dismissed. I will admit that I do not understand (nor do many physcists) the subtle implications of recent developments in quantum physicists, simply due to the time it would take to learn the math behind it. An example of some concepts I have a some grasp on are dimensionality slicing and the many-world's hypothesis. Combining them with quantum probabilities, allowed the concept a 5-dimensional universe as the physical structure. But philosophy must not exclude any measurable data, and it's possible that there is a proof in some physics paper of which I am not aware which renders that idea completely false.

Currently there is almost no measurable on the possible subjective experiences of death and free will (if they even are real experiences), and those are therefore two major topics in philosophy. But as more data on death becomes available, whether due to biological understanding of apoptosis, or through physics' understanding of Schroedinger's cat, the need for philosophy will start to become obviated.

When we get to that point in society, it will be a completely different way humans choose to spend their time, and interpret the universe. Once there are very few philosophical wonderings left, and once science has enough measurable data to make us feel the emotions we want, for example, and to know what happens after death, our way of living will change. For better or for worse remains to be seen, and I'll offer no prediction on that.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Cardiovascular fitness. Muscle hypertrophy. Obesity. Learning. Training dogs. Natural selection. All just examples of the process of adaptation.

Adaptation is simply the process of becoming more efficient at dealing with a repeated stimuli.

Let's go through each of these examples and see how they are simply manifestations of adaptation.

  • Cardivascular fitness: By running consistently and frequently, the cardiovascular system has to become more efficient at delivering oxygen to your body. By consistently straining your cardiovascular system, it adapts by increasing your cardiovascular fitness. So by the 100th time you run a mile, there's less strain to deal with that forced stimuli of running.
  • Muscle hypertrophy: Strength training. By repeatedly exposing the muscle fibers to strain, they have to adapt to be more efficient at contracting. The result is increase in the size and quantity of the muscle fibers, resulting in a strong physique.
  • Obesity: By repeatedly consuming food, your body has to become more efficient at storing it. The number of fat cells capable of storing food actually increases. That's why it's more difficult to lose weight once you put it on: you have more total fat cells in your body (in addition to an increase in their average size!). Back in our caveman days, the need to store food efficiently was an adaptation to the scarcity and infrequency of meals. (Aside: the recently popular intermittent fasting diet regime is the other side of the same coin).
  • Learning: Or, more specifically, acquiring knowledge rather than rational thought. Memorizing. Learning about chemical bonds or language theory. By repeatedly exposing your neurons to the same stimuli (a fact, a process, etc.) they adapt. They become more efficient at recalling that information in the future. This way, when the information is needed again, or when you read the same book a fifth time, your memory is more efficient (it takes less "mental strain" or less time) to bring the information to your awareness.
  • Training dogs: When you punish a dog for a given action, he adapts. The first few times that he experiences the punishment, he doesn't yet form a pattern to predict whether it will happen in the future. But by the 10th time, he sure won't be pulling on the leash when going for a walk.
  • Natural selection: In terms of evolution, only the strong survive. Or rather, only the best-fitted to the current environment survive. The universe is constantly presenting our environment with new stimuli. For example our earth's atmosphere, which we've adapted to and expanded beyond. Harsh conditions. The primordial soup from which it is theorized DNA emerged. All simple examples of life's molecules adapting to repeated exposure to the universe's conditions and stimuli, resulting in only the adapted organisms surviving.

This is all well and good, and perhaps blatantly obvious. But how do you use the concept of adaptation to better achieve your goals and benefit your personal life? It's simple: frequency. There are platitudes galore of this. For example: "consistency is key", "practice makes perfect", "an apple a day keeps the doctor away".

William James was a 19th century philosopher who said:

"When we look at living creatures from an outward point of view, one of the first things that strike us is that they are bundles of habits."

Use the fact that we naturally adapt to fine-tune your habits. By doing something consistently, frequently, whether it's running, or working on an architecture design, you will naturally adapt. By the 17th time you see the same architecture plans, or you read the same literary deconstruction, it has become a part of you. You've adapted. You've been exposed to the same stimuli too often (in a good way!). This clears the way for you to efficiently see patterns or creatively use that information to push further in your given task. By running frequently, even if you don't push yourself past your previous limit every day, your adaptation will naturally allow you to push yourself from couch to 5k. Now for professional level athletes, simply relying on frequency alone is not the most efficient way to achieve their goals, but for nearly every other person, doing something frequently for several years and then decades will have a profound cumulative effect on their lives.

Being particular and intentional with how you spend your time is the basis for many motivational videos and speeches, and is simply capitalizing on the process of adaptation.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Descontruction Emotions


I discussed emotions as simply an awareness of different hormone levels throughout our body. Yet that's only the concrete feeling of emotions. If emotions were only awareness of hormones, then how would one distinguish two feelings, which may have similar hormone levels, and yet would be caused by two different events?

To understand this, we have to recognize that emotions are both subjective sense of our hormones (or other chemicals such as neurotransitters) of which our consciousnesses are aware, as well as an associated abstract, rational thought, attached to a given feeling.

As such, this allows us to deconstruct several of our emotions, and enact what cognitive behavioral therapists attempt to do, in distinguishing the feeling from the underlying thought.

We'll take two emotions: jealousy and happiness. Each of these words is actually a catch-all term representing several underlying emotions.


Jealousy can be thought of as one or more of the following: possessiveness, envy, and insecurity. Let's take the simplest, and most common, example of jealousy at an ex's new lover. While the concrete subjective feeling may be exactly the same, the experience of jealousy can be broken down into:

  • Envy: Some subconscious thought makes you wish you were her (the other lover). You have the physical queasiness in your stomach, associated with a subconscious thought that you wish you had what the new lover has. Envy is a focus on the new lover.
  • Possessiveness: "Mine!" An evolutionarily programmed, instinctual response, over your ex. It has nothing to do with the new lover, but everything to do with a sense of possessiveness over your ex. Possessiveness is a focus on your ex.
  • Insecurity: "Maybe I'm not good enough?" The feeling of queasiness, associated with some deep unresolved insecurity Insecurity is a focus on yourself.
Before critics start claiming "I don't have these thoughts, I just feel jealous!" allow me to remind you, defensive reader, that these are subconscious thoughts, arising likely from an evolutionary incentive. Nothing you'd likely be aware of.

Each of these separate feelings are simply the same subjective emotion of jealousy (that "queasiness"), associated with a subconscious, automatic thought regarding either you (insecurity), your ex (possessiveness), or the new lover (envy).


Next we'll delve into happiness. Again, another catch-all term. This time, it's a concrete feeling associated with some feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters (likely dopamine, seratonin, adrenaline, etc., in some combination and flow), associated with a subconscious thought.

We could break down happiness along the dimension of the person and subject (happy for yourself, happy for him, happy for her, happy for them), but this time we'll discuss happiness in terms of time, and break it down into three constituent feelings.

  • Pride: Happiness with the past. Happiness with some way you performed or acted, or some external result which occurred in your life. You can feel pride in yourself, or a loved one. Pride is a focus on the past.
  • Contentment: Happiness with the present. Imagine Buddhist monks, or Yogis. Living in the present,completely content with the way the universe is unfolding. Or a Christian, content with the belief that God has as plan, and things are unfolding as they should. Present-minded. Mindful. Happy with where you are in life. Not a stray thought unnecessarily focused on longing for memories or trying to predict the future. Contentment is a focus on the present.
  • Excitement: Happiness with the future. Forget about being proud of the past, or content with the present. Rather, from the perspective of driving a car, being happy with the speed and direction that car is moving through the Field of Choice. Excited about the probable outcomes the future may hold. Excitement is a focus on the future.


Our language contains many words describing emotions, which are really catch-all hierarchical terms (e.g. "happiness" and "jealousy"), and also many words describing more constituent, specific emotional building blocks ("contentment" or "insecurity").

Every emotion you feel is a combination of the physical, concrete feeling (e.g. joy or queasiness or cortisol or fear) associated with a subconscious automatic thought. By detaching the two from each other allows one to better understand oneself and have more control over the influence the external world (and other beings) have over one's emotional state.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Natural Society Selection

Life has become increasingly more sophisticated as time goes on. From single celled organisms to the symbiotic relationship between multiple cells comprising the human body.

This has only been possible through a constant battle or thousands of generations and billions of species, fighting for dominance.

We are at the bring of the limit of what our earth can support. Natural selection will still continue on earth, but as we become smarter and more resilient, life will begin to expand to other planets.

This will allow for an interesting phenomenon. A collective set of cells evolve together through the human body, with billions of humans helping the process along at any given time.

Once we start expanding outside our own planet, and outside our own solar system, we are going to start observing societies acting collectively as one single unit. With enough space available, societies will be acting as a single organism, and natural selection will start choosing which societies are best fit for the universe.

The point of life is to see what is best suited for the trials and tribulations in the obstacle course that is our universe. We are already trending from single-celled organism, to multi-celled organisms, to symbiotic organisms, and now onto societies in which the agents (citizens) are starting to act in unison, under the direction of a centralized (nervous) system (the government).

As our world becomes more interconnected, through the advent of telecommunication and air travel, we are already starting to fight amongst ourselves at an increasing rate. That is simply natural selection starting to work its way onto larger systems, in order to determine which societies are best suited for the environment.

Our individuality and free will will always exist, but eventually societies which better act in unison may beat out (evolutionarily) societies which allow for too much creative thought.

Or, on the other hand, societies which act as a template for capitalistic free thought in a decentralized fashion may turn out to be better suited to the universe through quicker adaptation to unknowns, and may be better suited for the universe than a centrally controlled society.

Time will tell. And by time, I mean the millions of years which define the evolutionary timescale.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mind Over Matter

"If you believe it, you can do it!" New age illogical crap the way most people talk about mind over matter.

What does that phrase actually represent? How could one explore the logic of such a statement to determine a scientific basis, if any, for that hypothesis?

Allow for a simple thought experiment. You are feeling lazy, or lethargic. In my post about emotions, I discussed the fact that all these "feelings" are just different interpretations of chemicals in our body. So there are some chemicals in your body or brain which are causing you to interpret the feeling of lethargy. Apathy. Laziness. Lack of motivation. Some combination of neurotransmitters is giving you that subjective feeling.

Now let's take the phrase "mind over matter" and see if we can apply it. Or rather, let's discuss is as "willpower over the external physical universe." So your goal is to use "mind over matter" to simply remove the physical chemicals present in your body which are causing you distress. Impossible, right? Spiritual mumbo jumbo?

Not exactly. Let's say that your self-awareness, that your mind, recognizes that when you have taken a walk in the past, or have gone to the gym, you remember feeling better. You remember feeling energized afterwards and more motivated for the rest of the day.

You then go about implementing the actions that you remember. You converge on the probabilities in your neurons which will allow your body to implement the steps for your choice. Your pattern recognition allowed you to see a possible future that you liked, and take a step towards it in the fifth dimension of choice.

You come back from the gym and feel less lazy. You have endorphines running through your body. You have none of the chemicals or neurotransmitters associated with the feeling of lethargy.

Your willpower, your decisions, over a period of 100 minutes, for example, was the mechanism your free will used to remove those "lethargy" chemicals from your body. To change the neurotransmitter configuration when you came back from the gym.

You use your willpower to remove the chemicals associated with pangs of hunger, every day.

If you will yourself enough, you can overcome the physical limits of your body. But it takes time. And that change in the physical universe over a period of time based on your willpower is what we colloquially define as "goals".

But not by simply wishing things would change. Rather by making choices of what to do with your body for a period of time (100 minutes, a day, a week, a year) to change the neurochemicals you experience. 

You work hard in your career to experience seeing a beautiful house you own. You choose to act a certain way on a first date so that you can potentially experience the neurochemicals associated with the experience of marriage.

You used your willpower to choose which photons would be hitting your eyes at a future date. You want to see the photons coming from a a child, and so you use your willpower now to change the photons you see in the future.

You were able to change your life by making choices, and therefore change the physical universe your body occupies, by your willpower.

Mind over matter has a logical basis, in that we can change the physics in front of us, the objects occupying the physical universe in the space in front of our eyes, through achieving our goals.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Field of Choice

This blog post is an amalgum of my series on senses and consciousness and my posts discussing the physics of the universe.

Fifth Dimension

Once we delve down into the structure of the universe, we hone in on time (the present moment), we hone in on space (subatomic particles and forces), and yet we see that there is an additional component: probabilities.

What if we defined probabilities as the fifth dimension? As in: matter/energy moves through time (and therefore the past and future are real and can be connected via wormholes), but also moves through probabilities (there are different probable energy levels that energy lives in).

There are possible trajectories a photon could take through space, and there are waves of those probable locations for the photon (and therefore possible trajectories through probabilities, or the fifth dimension).

Gravity and quantum mechanics are irreconcilable right now, possibly because gravity explains spacetime as a four dimensional universe, and yet quantum mechanics deals with probabilities. Einstein had a lot of trouble believing that God would play dice with the universe, as per his famous quote.

I already presented the idea that we are aware of probabilities through our willpower. But what is willpower exactly? What exactly are we aware of?

I believe that we are actually aware of our motion through the fifth dimension.


We visualized our four dimensional universe last year as a single block.

At the end of that article, I made the claim that a multiverse could be visualized as a morphing four dimensional universe.
But a multiverse is nothing more than a five dimensional universe. Rather than visualizing a multiverse as a morphing four dimensional universe, allow us to visualize it as what I call a Field of Choice.

In the article about visualizing a four dimensional universe, we collapsed one of the spatial dimensions. In this article, we will collapse all spatial dimensions into one, to more easily visualize. 

Allow the dimension of choice be orthogonal to time, which is orthogonal to all the spatial dimensions.

Our lives through a four dimensional universe would simply be a straight line through the Field of Choice. But then you would simply be a passive observer, possibly only making decisions based on the highest probability.

I assert that we have free will. Which is nothing more than us moving through the fifth dimension of probabilities. We make choices every day, and are therefore moving through the fifth dimension by collapsing the probabilities in our neurons.

Now imagine a curve moving through the fifth dimension, not just the three spatial dimensions, as time progresses. We would constantly have to be making choices, visualizing possible futures.

We can take our theory of pattern recognition being seen as another sense into the future, as actually a sense into both the fourth and fifth dimensions. We can see the future, and also other “nearby” choices.

It’s possible that quantum physics’ models of probabilities could never resolve its conflict with Einstein’s theory of gravity until the idea of choice (converging the probabilities) is seen as the fifth dimension the same way time was seen as the fourth dimension.

This the true multiverse. Physicists discuss the possibility of multiple universes existing simultaneously with different probable outcomes, and that's simply what I refer to as the Field of Choice. To define that multiverse, we simply have to define an additional dimension of the universe as the probabilities.

This theory also explains how we have free will, as well as have subjective experiences which observe the state of the universe. Our motion through the multiverse is how our free will operates.

The truth is, we don’t live in a four dimensional universe. We live in a fifth dimensional universe. And the fifth dimension is choice. Our sight into the past and present is singular in the past, and varied in the future.

Applications & Implications

Daily Life

Now that we can visualize how free will may operate through a multiverse, let's discuss possible ways in which this could affect our mood and our day-to-day interactions.
  • Fear of Death: Our pattern recognition sight is unable to see what happens after death. Our fear of death is simply an awareness of the fact that our sight, everything we know we’re going to be in control to change, is limited to our life. It’s a void past which we don’t know. We have no feedback from what happens to our awareness and willpower after death and that’s scary.
  • Fear of _________: Any fear could simply be seen as attempting to avoid unfavorable spots in the Field of Choice. For example, fear of embarrassment could be seen as using our pattern recognition and memories to avoid unfavorable spots on the field of choice based on socially acceptable ways to interact.
  • Depression: Could be pining about things that are set in stone in the past, coupled with a lack of motivation to exercise our will across the fifth dimension (unmotivated).
  • Anxiety: Could be the feeling of frantically trying to not screw up which choice you make and constantly trying to avoid unfavorable spots in the Field of Choice.
  • Optimism & Empowerment: The feeling that you have a wide range of motion in the fifth dimension. That your choices are capable of moving you further across the dimension of possibilities.
  • Pessimism & Realism: Understanding that there are high-probable outcomes outside of your control which may not be favorable.
An instinctual awareness of a fifth dimension has even permeated our language. “If I choose X, I go down one path in life. If I choose Y I go down a different path.” That’s our minds naturally and instinctually being aware of the fifth dimension of probabilities and the fact that we can carve out different curves through the multiverse, not just a straight line.

I understand that it's entirely possible that there's determinism, and that the universe simply chooses for us the highest probability events. Yet it's also equally possible that by believing in a five dimensional universe (or however many spatial dimensions our physicists find plus time and probabilities), this allows free will to operate within the current paradigm of physics.


In addition, if time travel were to exist, this concept of free will and choice as a fifth dimension could resolve the grandfather paradox. If you go back in time, your willpower is essentially carving a new path in a parallel universe. There's no paradox if there's a fifth dimension.

When physicists discuss a multiverse, for those who understand what a dimension truly represents, they are simply discussing slicing (a type of dimensionality reduction), along the fifth dimension. The parallel universe hypothesis is nothing more or less than a recognition of probabilities being the fifth dimension.

Even our empathy is simply an understanding that there are other beings with free will also navigating this Field of Choice, allows us to have a sense of morality.


This is what Buddhists talk about when they discuss how we're all in this life together and make the entire world of sentient beings their in-group. Also the concept of reincarnation can be related to the idea that our awareness moving through the Field of Choice will find another entity to be aware of after the death of our neurons. This is what Christians talk about when they discuss that God is omnipotent, as He would be a being capable of navigating and seeing this entire Field of Choice.

It's a working possible way to reconcile some inconsistencies between gravity, quantum probabilities, religion, free will, morality, and self-awareness, with some possible real-world implications of this philosophy in regards to psychology and how to live one's life.


Fate may given you a tunnel through this multiverse, or Field of Choice, based on the fact that certain outcomes are low-probability events (the edges of the tunnel through the fifth dimension) and certain outcomes are high probability events (the middle of the tunnel through the fifth dimension is easy to move through). But free will allows you to move through the tunnel. It takes more willpower to create highly improbable events in your life come true, such as starting from a disadvantaged position early in life into a huge financial success, but you can still use strength of will to move through that tunnel. A highly financially successful life may be farther away along the fifth dimension of probability when you start from nothing, but willpower can move you closer to highly improbable events by the choices you make through the Field of Choice.

That's the takeaway for how philosophy can affect your day-to-day interactions, choices, and emotions.