Re: Metarationality (was: JOIN: Alden Streeter)

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Thu Aug 29 2002 - 17:15:39 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
>>3) Beethoven's internal processes for tweaking the melody to find one
>>that achieved the effect he wanted are not all known. But if you
>>name any
>>specific one, I will undertake to show how rationality underlies it.
> But it's not a matter of "tweaking"... it's a matter of an overwhelming
> experience of creative inspiration.
> Many creative people have experienced forms and ideas pouring out as if from
> some unknown inner source. Forms streaming, emanating, exploding -- so much
> faster and more elegantly fit together than if they were consciously
> reasoned out.
> I started with Beethoven, but I don't know that much about his creative
> process, so I'll shift to someone I'm more familiar with...
> The most striking description of the creative experience I have seen was
> given by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in his autobiography, Ecce
> Homo:

I do not get what Nietzche or Phillip K. Dick speaks of as
often, but I have had similar experiences a few times in my
life. They are monstrously overpowering. Much of my own
technical creativity, why not of that kind, seems often to come
from a similar no-thought sort of place and come in a much more
rarified form that then has to be "stepped-down" to the level of
concepts, logic, engineering. It is exceedingly difficult to

> "March 20, 1974: It seized me entirely, lifting me from the limitations of
> the space-time matrix; it mastered me as, at the same instant, I knew that
> the world around me was cardboard, a fake. Through its power I saw suddenly
> the universe as it was; through its power and perception I saw what really
> existed, and through its power of no- thought decision, I acted to free
> myself...."

Yes. I know what that is like. During the one such I felt as
if so much information was instantaneously pumped into me that
it would take several lifetimes to downstep a small part of it
to human communicable form. It left me trembling in a deep
state of awe. It is very, very hard to not be somewhat mystical
when things like this occur.

> In no way is this sort of shit "tweaking", and in no way is it *consciously*
> experienced as any kind of rational calculation about how to create a great
> work.
> Is it rooted in unconscious inference operations? Partly, but also in a lot
> of other unconscious noninferential operations, including some damn mixed-up
> irrational emotional ones.

I will not even begin to attempt to "explain" some of the more
intense states I have experienced or have heard of in others. I
have made the attempt many, many times and none of my or other's
*explanations* seem remotely adequate. Some things I have to
grant that neither I nor anyone I know of is currently capable
of explaining. That is not an *happy* conclusion - not what I
would *prefer*. But there it is.

> Does this kind unconscious irrationality contribute to the overall
> effectiveness (what you call Rationality) of the person embodying it? Sure.
> Nietzsche wouldn't have created his philosophy, Dick wouldn't have created
> his novels, without these unconscious, wildly irrational processes.

Are you sure it makes sense to even measure such on the same
rationality scale at all? I'm not. Parts of them seem quite
orthogonal to a rational-irrational dimension. The Real flows
freely through the bars of our word category cages.

- samantha

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