Re[2]: Metarationality (was: JOIN: Alden Streeter)

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Mon Aug 26 2002 - 13:08:09 MDT

Monday, August 26, 2002, 1:45:55 PM, Ben Goertzel wrote:

BG> Could Van Gogh have painted better sunflowers if he'd been internally
BG> proceeding in a less whacky, more explicitly rational (in the narrow sense)
BG> way? Well, no great artist has ever proceeded in an explicitly rational
BG> way...

BG> It seems the human brain is only capable of creating some kinds of great
BG> works, if it uses tremendous amounts of irrationality in the process...

BG> Phil Dick was being "rational" in the sense that he was proceeding toward
BG> his goal of creating great sci-fi works, pretty effectively. But some
BG> subprocesses that his brain used toward that goal were pretty damn
BG> irrational...

Thank you for your lyrical *and* reasoned (take that, you partisans of
Reason!) defense of creativity and its arational genesis.

Although I'm straying somewhat off-topic here, I'd again like to
relate this to some concepts you touched on in your description of
Psynese. Namely, works of art can evoke complexes of emotion and
thought in others that are orders of magnitude beyond what words can
convey. And I am convinced, although I have no evidence, that in some
cases "the same nodes" are being activated in numerous human minds
when experiencing a particular work of art. In this sense, art can be
far more efficient than language, although it loses in the surface
"accuracy" written and spoken language conveys (which accuracy,
outside of limited formal domains like mathematics, is itself

In part this can be explained (more or less handwavingly) with
concepts like Jung's Collective Unconscious, in part by the fact that
our minds share similar structures, and in part by the fact that
a shared cultural background informs both viewer and artist. These
all shade over into each other, and can also form an alternate
description of the process of inspiration: namely, one is channeling
millions of years of evolution of mind (via the CU) and thousands of
years of evolution of society (via cultural background), as well as
one's personal unconscious contents. I am hugely oversimplifying of
course, and the subjective power of the channeling experience is not
diminished by such a description.


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