[Paleopsych] Dan Brown, Hegel and Hinduism

Werbos, Dr. Paul J. paul.werbos at verizon.net
Sun Jul 18 16:28:09 UTC 2004

At 12:20 PM 7/18/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>Yeah... I'd like to take a look at that 4 MB ppt tutorial.
>Please forward.
>Thanks!    -- Joel

Thanks for your interest.



P.S. Again, it's "notes view" in PPT for the text.

>>From: "Werbos, Dr. Paul J." <paul.werbos at verizon.net>
>>Reply-To: The new improved paleopsych list <paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
>>To: HowlBloom at aol.com, paleopsych at paleopsych.org
>>Subject: [Paleopsych] Dan Brown, Hegel and Hinduism
>>Date: Sun, 18 Jul 2004 09:49:22 -0400
>>Good morning!
>>Sometimes on a Sunday morning, it is so pleasant to look out to the 
>>complex multithreaded fabric around
>>us, and try to make out (or imagine?) patterns not seen before...
>>If only we had more of such mornings....
>>Regarding Dan Brown, someone on this list recently said he would rather 
>>read titillating stories about
>>the sex lives of the British royals than read HIS books. (The voice of a 
>>former teenager in my mind
>>immediately thought: "Once again we are too much a nation of couch 
>>potatoes...", but I will not follow
>>that first thread here.)
>>Whatever his problems, Dan Brown does deserve a bit more than that.
>>Certainly, Brown makes assertions in his books which raised immediate 
>>hackles in my mind -- though I still
>>enjoyed reading them anyway. He talks a lot about groups, people and 
>>history that I know
>>better, first-hand, and he constantly overreached and enshrined 
>>speculations that could become dangerous
>>if taken too seriously. But after a certain point, I began to think... I 
>>have to agree with some of his taste in subjects,
>>because I have found almost all of the groups he discusses worth of 
>>intense attention. With one perhaps
>>central exception: the Priory of Sion. The last trace I saw of them 
>>crossing paths with the real world..
>>was probably about 80 years ago... He also made a few technical points 
>>about codes which I had not heard of - but
>>which I have not checked (at least, not checked out completely). (Oops: I 
>>have also had no contact whatsoever
>>with any French royal lines, unless you count De Broglie or De 
>>Beauregard, from a distance.)
>>And yet, in retrospect... Brown does have an important role to play.
>>Crudely -- if the world is obsessed with a "thesis," there really are 
>>times when an antithesis must
>>be well-articulated and pushed before it is possible to move on to a 
>>synthesis. This has been
>>something of a hard lesson for me to learn over the past few years. As an 
>>individual, I often want to move
>>straight to the synthesis to a point closer to the truth. In my own 
>>thinking, I can get away with
>>doing that, and can move ahead many steps... but there comes a time when 
>>one must either
>>communicate or face up to the fact that one has contributed very little 
>>real to the world as whole.
>>And in that process... as people move one step at a time... one needs to 
>>the Great Antithesis.
>>Of course, this is straight Hegel. Hegel is not satisfying at all as a 
>>theory of how human brains really
>>learn and progress. Freud makes a lot more sense, in my view, as a guide 
>>to the wiring of a system
>>that really works. Hegel is as unsatisfying to the intellect as the 
>>"yin-yang" ideas from Daoism.
>>(And Hegel, like Daoist folk healers, also has his barnacles and cheap 
>>shots that I don't mean to comment on here.)
>>And yet... we do need phenomenological guides to everyday life, and 
>>Hegel's triangle of thesis-antithesis-synthesis
>>does seem to recur in many, many parts of life experience. It can be seen 
>>as a kind of crude but
>>very useful approximation to a kind of emergent dynamic property of 
>>intelligent systems and social systems.
>>The Financial Times yesterday morning had a big article (page W4) on the 
>>new... worldview... emerging
>>in Russia. They say that the rediscovery of Hegel is a large part of it. 
>>That also is interesting.
>>And when I think of it... in complex ways... I realize how the Orthodox 
>>Hindu trinity of Brahman-Siva-Krishna
>>mirrors very nicely the trinity of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. In some 
>>ways, one might even argue
>>that Hegel gives a kind of purified version of that trinity, stripped of 
>>confusing and deceptive barnacles..
>>(but also stripped of poetry and side stories, yes).
>>Why would one care? Why would a more cosmic intellect waste time with 
>>such things?
>>The whole Hegelian process can help us become conscious of a pervasive 
>>challenge we all face as
>>intelligent systems ourselves" a tendency to be caught in local minima. 
>>And it highlights how diversities
>>in HUMAN personalities can be helpful in society as a whole making progress.
>>Many of us, in the rationalist part of the world, have tended to 
>>gravitate towards incremental progress
>>and incremental learning. For example, the neural network learning 
>>algorithm I developed
>>more than thirty years ago, now called "backpropagation," is an 
>>incremental learning system,
>>and it accounts for perhaps 80 percent of the useful real-world 
>>applications of artificial neural networks.
>>(I have free time right now because I am basically waiting to fly to a 
>>couple of conferences, including IJCNN04 --
>>a term you can google -- to give a tutorial on this. Would be happy to 
>>email the powerpoint with text notes
>>to anyone who doesn't mind getting 4 megs.) But it has been widely 
>>criticized because of how it can sometimes
>>get stuck in "local minima."
>>The local minimum problem actually is radically different from what 
>>quickie users of backpropagation in the MatLab
>>program imagine. (Again, the tutorial explains more.) Some key aspects:
>>simple pattern classification systems
>>usually do not get stuck in local minima; incremental learning always 
>>IMPROVES what you have, and that's
>>useful, even if it is not the global optimum; as learning challenges grow 
>>more and more complex,
>>local minima become more and more unavoidable -- so that we can never 
>>"solve" them with a magic bullet but
>>we do need to have a whole multi-layer arsenal of methods to try to 
>>improve creativity, to find ways to get out of local minima.
>>So this Hegelian stuff is basically about fighting our way out of local 
>>Years ago, I discussed this with Michael Conrad, one of the people I used 
>>to fund, and we put together one interesting story --
>>where the "thesis" is the local minimum we are now stuck in, an 
>>"antithesis" may be another valley
>>we can reach only by jumping "irrationally" in opposition to the local 
>>gradient we experience -- and
>>synthesis or transcendence is when the learning system ADDS A NEW 
>>VARIABLE to its representation of the problem such that
>>there is again an incremental path to the ultimate point.
>>The strategy of seeking transcendence is my favorite strategy in trying 
>>to improve social systems. But the
>>energy to MOTIVATE synthesis is often lacking... and it can be hard at 
>>times to sell the objective truth...
>>and often one must wait until an extreme idiot is willing to formulate 
>>the antithesis in
>>he starkest  most extreme form before the world is ready for the synthesis.
>>That is hard for an incremental, rational Quaker to learn... but there it is.
>>(Comment: Quaker lobby groups these days tend to have a different 
>>personality from Quakers in
>>general on this particular point.... perhaps for reasons related to what 
>>I am saying here.)
>>And so.. Dan Smith. The Goddess stuff tends to be an extreme antithesis, 
>>and some of what he
>>say about specific people would drive them into orbit -- not just the 
>>woman he wrongs from the space movement
>>but also many men whom he praises in ways they would not like...
>>And yet, it is certainly true that the world as a whole is entrenched in 
>>a thesis in its treatment of women
>>which is extreme in the opposite direction, and dangerously 
>>destabilizing. I am not thinking
>>of the US especially... where we have many, many technical problems but 
>>not such a crisis...
>>but rather of parts of the world where the instability of the old thesis 
>>really is an urgent crisis.
>>All for now.
>>Best of luck,
>>     Paul
>>paleopsych mailing list
>>paleopsych at paleopsych.org
>paleopsych mailing list
>paleopsych at paleopsych.org
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