Actual Freedom – A Request from Konrad Swart

Page Twelve Of A Continuing Dialogue With

Konrad Swart

October 20 1998:

KONRAD: I have been reading a book about neurophysiology, and it turns out that both you and I were wrong about emotions.

RICHARD: For you to know how I have been wrong about emotions, Konrad, you first have to know what I understand about them out of my experience. And you consistently show that you do not even know what I say ... let alone understand what I experience.

KONRAD: It is a far more complex phenomenon, and far more important than either you and I imagine.

RICHARD: It may be far more complex than you can imagine ... but do not kid yourself that your limited understanding is my on-going experience. Be that as it may, all of the feelings – emotions and passions and calentures – are very important, I agree. Feelings are causing people to kill and be killed ... and eliminating the cause of this blight on our fair earth is important by any definition.

KONRAD: Let me show you what I have learnt. I have recently read some material about the human brains, and its functioning. Especially the experiments of Gerald M. Edelman, and its consequences I thought to be very interesting. Now, something amazing has been established about the functioning of the brains. Have you ever wondered, what is the real difference between the waking condition and the sleep and dream-state? Both have one thing in common, namely images.

RICHARD: Maybe for Mr. Gerald Edelman and yourself ... but not for me. I can make no images whatsoever ... the image-making faculty disappeared out of me when the identity died. I have no imagination or intuition at all.

KONRAD: The images in our dreams are the result of the functioning of memory, while those of the waking state are for a large part the result of the functioning of our senses. Still, there is the phenomenon of sleepwalking, wherein a capacity to observe is also present. For it allows us to walk without falling, and therefore to observe where we are going. So the difference is not simply that of observation. With this I mean, that in the sleep and dream-state our eyes are closed, while in the waking state our eyes are open and looking. So it is not so, that in dreams the pictures are less lively than in the waking state. In fact, the opposite might well be the case. So there has to be something else that accounts for the difference between those two states. So what is it? Investigations have made clear, that the difference is that of whether or not a context is active. In the dream state there is no context active, while, when we are awake, there is. Now, the basis of logic is: ‘To understand is the same as to distinguish within a context’. Since in the dream-state no context is active, there is no understanding present. So a dream can be as lively and logical as the waking experience, but if no context is present, no understanding of what happens is present, and therefore this lively dream is not experienced as something understandable. It is just a flux of images. Of course, if you are awake, and you remember the dream, you understand it, and usually you consider it to be rubbish, as most dreams are. For in the waking state a context is active, and therefore judgements about sense and nonsense, i.e. understanding is possible, and happening. So the statement ‘dreams are nonsensical’ is not an adequate description of the difference between the dream state and the waking state either. It is better to say, that if somebody is dreaming, he is in a state wherein the question whether that what is dreamed makes sense or not cannot be asked. Therefore everything is uncritically accepted. So, concerning the dream state, it is better to say that no relation between dreams and the sense of the images exists, while in the waking condition this difference can be made. Now what has this to do with actualism?

RICHARD: I would guess ... nothing? I have a question for you: do you know what actualism is? If not, then your observations mean very little. First know what you are going to criticise.

KONRAD: It is the following. Whether something makes sense or not is a matter of whether or not a context is active. But what determines the activity of context? The answer to this question: A context is active, whenever there is a principle active. So principles determine contexts. Principles are the determinants with which our minds distinguishes between sense and nonsense.

RICHARD: Hmm ... are you so certain of that? Could Mr. Gerald Edelman be mistaken? In fact, is this still him talking or you? You are big on principles, so I assume it is the latter. Now, as I have no need for principles – being already always happy and harmless – just what has all this to do with actualism?

KONRAD: To give a number of examples of how this happens: mathematics often consists of certain abstract constructs that often cannot be applied to existence. Still, they make ‘sense’, because mathematics operates in a logical context.

RICHARD: They make mathematical sense ... but mathematical sense is not necessarily commonsense. The same applies for logical sense ... as is demonstrated in my simplistic cat and fleas syllogism. But, what has this to do with actualism?

KONRAD: So if certain derivations are made in mathematics, they are experienced as a representation of something sensible, because they satisfy the criterion, i.e. the principle of logic.

RICHARD: Once again ... logical and/or mathematical sense, yes. Now, what has this to do with actualism?

KONRAD: In fact, if the logic of some proof cannot be seen, the sense of it also escapes the person who tries to understand.

RICHARD: Logically, yes ... practically ... not necessarily so. Sometimes something can work even if it is not understood ... as is evidenced in quantum mathematics. Be that as it may, what has this to do with actualism?

KONRAD: In the same manner, in the domain of physics something makes sense if it is both logical AND testable by experiment. If it does not satisfy both criteria, it is not considered to be physics. If it only satisfies logic, it is considered to be mathematics. And if it only satisfies the experimental criterion, but not that of mathematics, it is considered to be an observation at best. Therefore it is at best a start of a new physics, or an outcome that might prove or disprove a certain physical theory that is not considered at that moment.

RICHARD: You came dangerously close to acknowledging not only the necessity of the empirical approach here ... but also the sensibility of it! However, what has this to do with actualism?

KONRAD: I can go on. In the context of biology, slowly but certainly the only statements that are accepted as sensible are statements that can be connected with evolution. So the concept of evolution is the thing that distinguishes between sound biological statements and rubbish. Now not in everybody logic, experiment or evolution as the basic principles they use to make sense of their observation. But NOBODY is without such principles. In fact, Man is able to accept, and therefore to adopt ANY principle. Whether these principles are indeed capable to really make a difference between sense and nonsense, ultimately does not make any difference. This is why there is such a huge difference between what different people consider to be sensible or not.

RICHARD: And therein lies the problem in living by principles, eh? But ... what has all this to do with actualism?

KONRAD: Now the important point, within the context of actualism is this: Such principles that distinguish between sense and nonsense are, as I said, the things that determine whether something is experienced as a dream or as something that makes sense. So there has to be a connection between the pictures that exist in our consciousness, and the principle or principles that represent our contexts. What is this connection? And now we have it: This connection is established by EMOTIONS!

RICHARD: But, Konrad ... I have no emotions. Yet I operate and function perfectly well in the world of people, things and events ... in fact far, far better than when I did when there was an ‘I’ in this body. It is a moot point as to whether I need principles ... I say not, but I am open to investigate this. Now, what has all this preamble had to do with actualism, eh?

KONRAD: So our emotions are representations of connections between the things we observe and/or experience, and our principles. Emotions therefore determine the difference between the dream-state and the waking state.

RICHARD: Maybe for you ... but not for me. Do you see now, that none of the above has had anything to do with actualism?

KONRAD: So everybody in whom a principle is active that determines the difference between sense and nonsense, emotions are also present.

RICHARD: But not in Richard. This is because what you are writing about has nothing to do with actualism.

KONRAD: Since there can be wide differences between the principles adopted by different persons, their emotions also differ widely. If something corresponds to a principle that is active in somebody, it ignites a positive emotion. And if it is in contradiction with this principle, it ignites a negative emotion. If the emotion is positive, the individual experiences it as something that ‘makes sense’. Indeed it does. It makes the sense-ation of a positive emotion. And if it is negative, they express this by saying that it is ‘nonsense’. Therefore there is no such thing as ‘common sense’. For a ‘common sense’ is necessarily caused by a principle that is present in everybody. And, as far as I can see, I have never discovered a principle everybody agrees on. Therefore there is no such thing as common sense.

RICHARD: And thus all the wars and murders and rapes and tortures and domestic violence and child abuse and sadness and loneliness and grief and depression and suicides go on ad infinitum. Nevertheless, I am still waiting to see what any of this has to do with actualism ... do you know?

KONRAD: Now the following can be deduced from this. Suppose somebody is in his ‘normal waking state’. Now I assert that normal waking state is one, wherein at least one, or maybe several emotions are present. The emotions are the link between the situation a person is in and his principles. These emotion is, however, not usually called motions, for language only reserves this term for violent emotions denoting states out of the ordinary. Still, there is no difference in essence between these emotions and the other ones. These emotions are called ‘being at ease’. It is the state everybody more or less is in. Now what these emotions do is giving a sense of understanding. Understanding of the position the person is in at that very moment. The thing that becomes clear to this person through these emotions is that he is in the waking state, and that he knows what he is doing at that very moment. It causes him to ‘evaluate’ the situation according to the principles adopted. An evaluation, that is continually present. Ayn Rand has even coined a phrase for this totality of emotions. She calls it the ‘sense of life’. I have never understood this term of her, but now that I have read this book: ‘The Invention of Memory’ by Israel Rosenfield, for the first time I can place this term. Now what this book shows clearly, is that context, and therefore principles, cause a constant evaluation of the information that reaches us through the senses. This evaluation manifests itself as a ‘sense of life’, that causes us to have the emotion of being ‘at ease’. The emotion of the waking state. It corroborates the claim of many philosophers, including me, that existence can be observed only indirectly.

RICHARD: It may be grand to believe a borrowed theory called ‘The Sense Of Life’ ... but has it made Ms. Ayn Rand happy and harmless by being free of malice and sorrow? Is she free of the human condition?

KONRAD: Only, this statement is not precise enough. You should not say that existence can be observed indirectly. No, it is more precise to say that that everybody makes sense of existence in a different way, and therefore existence appears in his consciousness in different ways. In other words, that what is called ‘existence’ differs from individual to individual. The sense being determined by the principles he has adopted. The totality of principles that are present in somebody, resulting in common sense, is what I call his ‘metaphysics’. So NOBODY can be without a metaphysics. For without it he lives in a dream-state, and then he is mad. I think this form of madness even exists in some individuals who are committed to asylums. It is called ‘schizophrenia’.

RICHARD: Never mind schizophrenia ... how about when a coffee cup for person ‘A’ is a piece of chewing gum for person ‘B’ ... as a statement of fact? Does this classify as insanity to you? You see, despite all the verbiage, none of this has anything to do with actualism ... has it?

KONRAD: So emotions are ALWAYS present, whenever somebody shows an ability to distinguish between sense and nonsense. Only, they are not usually called emotions. In common language the only things that are considered emotions are the violent reactions to our principles. Nevertheless, this is only a difference in degree, not in essence. Now your statements show clearly, that you make a distinction between sense and nonsense. This fact alone shows that what you put forward is just a new metaphysics. It cannot be something else, because without it no distinction between sense and nonsense can be made. It is the way the brains function. To state otherwise is ignoring the way the brain, ANY brain ‘makes sense’ of what it sees, understand.

RICHARD: Yet you are ignoring what I report about how my brain works. I make perfect sense of the world of people, things and events without emotions or principles. Is it yet clear to you that you are not talking about something that has anything to do with actualism?

KONRAD: Now what tells this about your actualism?

RICHARD: Well ... absolutely nothing at all. This is because you have been so busy constructing a complex ‘metaphysics’ about actuality. Actuality already always is ... it does not need contexts and emotions and principles and mathematical and/or logical constructs in order to be here now.

KONRAD: Well, its basic principle is that existence can be observed directly.

RICHARD: But actualism is not a ‘principle’ ... it is an actual experience. It is a here and now on-going ever-fresh magical perfection.

KONRAD: Its emphasis is on sensual data, the concrete, what you call ‘actuality’. It has a strong focus on ‘now’, the present.

RICHARD: Good ... because only now is actual. And now is always here.

KONRAD: In your metaphysics there is even a denial of the conceptual nature of time itself. It is replaced by vagaries like ‘Anywhen’, etc, that are supposed to shield you for an awareness (which is necessarily abstract) of the limited duration of your own existence.

RICHARD: But, Konrad, time is not ‘conceptual’ at all. You can only see the world through concepts, whereas I see it directly. Time already always is.

Incidentally – as I have explained to you before – my use of ‘anywhen’ was because, although there was the word ‘anywhere’ for space ... there was no equivalent word for time. And does this mean that ‘anywhere’ is a vagary for you as well? Also, what does the word ‘etc.’ indicate ... other than trying to make it look like I use a lot of ‘vagaries’ without having to state what they (supposedly) are?

KONRAD: What does this mean for emotions, that are redefined as ‘feelings’ by Actualism?

RICHARD: Whoa up there, Konrad ... I did not ‘redefine’ emotions into feelings. They always have been classified as such. Golly, how many times have I written that I have no feelings whatsoever? Vis.:

• [Richard]: ‘I have no feelings – emotions and passions and calenture – whatsoever’.

KONRAD: Everything that is concrete will cause a positive emotional reaction from this metaphysics. This positive emotional reaction is called ‘bliss’.

RICHARD: Oh, no ... not this again, surely. Konrad: Please read what I write because, not only you are wasting your time constructing a ‘metaphysics for actualism’ anyway, but you unnecessarily complicate it by including elements in it which I am on record as saying do not operate. What is the point of all this intellectualising anyway? Especially if it has no basis in the information I give you? Therefore, I will copy and paste for your edification. Vis.:

• [Richard]: ‘The ‘reality’ of the ‘real world’ is an illusion. The ‘Reality’ of the ‘Mystical World’ is a delusion. There is an actual world that lies under one’s very nose ... I interact with the same people, things and events that you do, yet it is as if I am in another dimension altogether. There is no good or evil here where I live. I live in a veritable paradise ... this very earth I live on is so vastly superior to any fabled Arcadian Utopia that it would be impossible to believe if I was not living it twenty four hours a day ... and for the last five years. It is so perfectly pure and clear here that there is no need for Love or Compassion or Bliss or Euphoria or Ecstasy or Truth or Goodness or Beauty or Oneness or Unity or Wholeness or ... or any of those baubles. They all pale into pathetic insignificance ... and I lived them for eleven years’.

Did you see the word ‘bliss’ in there? I lump it into the same category as love and compassion and beauty and so on.

KONRAD: So I can see, that your ‘actualism’ works. It indeed causes people that adopt your actualism principle to have a ‘positive sense of life’ towards the concrete. This is then mistaken as ‘observing reality as an actuality, and therefore directly’. So it makes everybody who adopts your vision to ‘feel good’. There are, however, two errors. One is that the price you pay for this ‘bliss’ is the abandoning of the abstract domain. And the second is, that this ‘bliss’ is not recognized as being the emotion it is. For emotions as such are underestimated. This is, because they are not investigated thoroughly enough.

RICHARD: Do you see how this whole paragraph means absolutely nothing at all ... because you do not read what I write? This is a variation on the ‘straw-man argument’ you are doing here. That is, you propose a theory that I do not live let alone espouse ... and then proceed to tell me how wrong it is.

This is silliness in operation.

KONRAD: So my analysis of your Actualism being something that attacks what I call the most important factor of Man, his ability to think, is, again, vindicated.

RICHARD: No, no, no ... nothing is vindicated. Just what is the point of all this when it is based upon your fantasy and not upon what I write?

KONRAD: So what you have found is just another metaphysics, of which a sect can be formed, and, as far as I can see, is forming.

RICHARD: This is more silliness ... a sect requires something metaphysical – something mystical – and some central charismatic person deluded enough to imagine they are ‘God On Earth’ around whom gullible penitents gather.

KONRAD: I add something else. I have had a correspondence with Vineeto. She shows clearly all of the signs of disciple-hood.

RICHARD: Yet a disciple requires a master in order for ‘disciple-hood’ to happen. I am no petty master, Konrad ... as I have explained to you before.

KONRAD: [Which] includes a strong condemnation of those who do not follow your metaphysics.

RICHARD: Yet I do not have a ‘metaphysics’ ... but do go on because this is fascinating.

KONRAD: And [she has] a blind devotion to you.

RICHARD: And your evidence of this ‘blindness’ and this ‘devotion’ is ... is what? Back up your fantasy with facts, Konrad.

KONRAD: She has the ‘aggrandizing’ behaviour of a world saviour. And probably she is not alone in this.

RICHARD: And on and on you go ... where you say ‘and probably she is not alone in this’ you are just speculating. It would be funny if it were not for the fact that you start to believe that what you fantasise and write is fact ... rather than read what I write.

KONRAD: Around me there is also a small ‘circle’ of people who are interested in what I have to offer. Only, when somebody in this circle is exhibiting such behaviour, it is pointed out to him or her, and its implication. Namely that it is degrading others on the ground of misplace superiority. And then it is usually ended. And that, without me having to do anything.

RICHARD: If you say ‘without me doing anything’ then who did the pointing out? Obviously someone in charge, eh? Someone who is an authority, it seems. Therefore, someone who has power over other people, eh?

KONRAD: For all of us are acutely aware of the fact, that metaphysical principles can blind you.

RICHARD: If only this were true.

KONRAD: It is human to do this, but it is inhuman not to deal with it. So there is a healthy basic respect present towards others, no matter who they are.

RICHARD: This applies to you and your metaphysical approach to life and has nothing to do with actuality.

KONRAD: I suggest that you take a very close look at your ‘followers’.

RICHARD: I do not have any ‘followers’ ... this is your fantasy.

KONRAD: For the behaviour at least one of them (Vineeto) exhibits is no different than that of followers of Bhagwan. If your actualism really is no metaphysical principle, but taps into a potential of Man to move above the ‘human condition’, as you claim it does, then this would not occur. For this IS the root cause of the human condition.

RICHARD: What on earth is this – whatever it is – that you say ‘IS’ the root cause of the human condition? Please elaborate.

KONRAD: In other words, your metaphysics just adds another approach to life, and therefore contributes to conflict, instead of being its solution. I can already see, that in my approach the converse is the case. If only, because we all accept at least the possibility that we might be wrong. Something I have never seen you do.

RICHARD: It really sticks in your craw that someone can be consistent, does it not?

KONRAD: You actualists are so keen on whether the goods are delivered? Well, your claims are contradicted in the results, while my claims are vindicated. In actual fact my approach causes more goodwill towards others, even when they think totally different than our approach. This is what I wanted to tell you when I pointed at somebody in my environment, who is a follower of a metaphysics analogous to that of yours.

RICHARD: Oh ... this person is only a follower of something ‘analogous’? That is not what you wrote before, Konrad ... you said he lived ‘according to [Richard’s] metaphysics’ and implying he was au fait with actualism. This is such a cheap trick. Vis.:

• [Konrad]: ‘I stop my conversation with you, for it has now become obvious that you are so deeply trapped in your metaphysics, that is mistaken for direct observation, that it is hopeless to get you out of it. And there is another reason. I have found somebody here in Holland, who lives according to your metaphysics, and he is making a complete mess of his life. His name is: [name withheld for obvious legal reasons] It can clearly be observed, that this mess is the direct result of him putting himself above his feelings. This man is observed to be completely insane, not only by me, but by everybody else’.
• [Richard]: ‘Whoa up there Konrad ... you are going way, way out here! What on earth has someone on the other side of the globe, whom I have never heard of and who has never contacted me, indicate that what I live and talk about does not work? You have been silly before, but this silliness takes the cake. It would be like me finding a logician here who is obviously clinically insane and using it as an example why your life does not work’.

KONRAD: Namely, the metaphysics that says it is possible to rise above emotions.

RICHARD: Not ‘rise above’, Konrad ... I am talking of the elimination of one’s identity. That is, the ‘I’ in the head (ego) and the ‘me’ in the heart (soul). Then all of the affective faculty disappears.

KONRAD: The principle itself is insane. And therefore, if this principle is applied, it does not matter who applies the principle. It will either make the person more sane, or it will make him insane. And what I see, both in your camp and in my environment, is that there is more evidence for increased insanity than increased sanity. How could it be otherwise? For the principle itself is in direct violation with the way the brains work. And therefore it cannot do anything else than make you insane.

RICHARD: As you are indulging in more scare-mongering, there was an E-mail come into the Mailing List that you were subscribed to a little while ago that had a paragraph that is particularly apt here. Vis.:

• [Person One]: ‘Is it sane and meaningful to break away from the flock while one is still very much a sheep?
• [Person two]: ‘Oh yes, very meaningful. The most sane act of all, although considered quite insane by other sheep. Very scary, too, which is why few do it and words like ‘insane’ creep into the discussion by flocking sheep to discourage any considering it. Freedom always appears insane to those still bound, if it didn’t, they’d immediately free themselves. Those who come face-to-face with limiting ideas of who they are and fears of the world are greatly rewarded’.

KONRAD: There is only one way to deal with the negative part of emotions. And that is not to try to eradicate all of them, but see that they are tools of Man. Tools, that can bring both benefits and trouble.

RICHARD: One of these days you might get around to listing these benefits that feelings bring. I have asked you to do so before, but as is so typical of you ... you fail too do so. Therefore, I take no notice of this unsubstantiated statement.

KONRAD: So you must study how emotions emerge, how they operate in the psyche, and what can be done to correct them if they cause trouble. Since all emotions emerge from principles, this requires a commitment to look at the source of a troublesome emotion, the principle generating it.

RICHARD: Yet it is the instinctual passions that are the source of human emotion ... not principles. Principles are a coping-mechanism that humans have devised to attempt to keep those base passions in check. And principles have to be emotion-backed in order to be even half-way effective. Hence ‘power’ ... and hence all the wars and murders and rapes and tortures and domestic violence and child abuse.

KONRAD: And look whether it is real, rational, and does what it promises. In that way you can become conscious of how the problem arises. And this awareness causes the principle, and therefore the emotion that emerges from it, to change.

RICHARD: And this is the reason why you continue to feel insulted and become infuriated and have to apply some emotion-backed principles to prevent yourself being driven by the instinctual urges to act in a socially reprehensible manner.

KONRAD: But this is far more difficult to do, and puts a much greater demand on us than to try to destroy all of them, and in this way to ‘commit suicide of the Self’. For your appeal is that you claim to have found ONE solution to all of the problems of Man.

RICHARD: Not so, Konrad ... we have talked of this ridiculous claim many times before. Vis.:

• [Konrad]: ‘It betrays your own naiveness. You believe in ONE solution for ALL of the problems of Man. That is simply naive’.
• [Richard]: ‘No, I do not. I am on record as saying that I am not an expert on everything ... and that I have no intention of becoming one. My expertise lies in the nature of consciousness and how to end malice and sorrow forever. I have the solution for things like wars, rapes, murders, tortures, domestic violence, child abuse, sadness, loneliness, grief, depression and suicide and so on ... not things like quantum physic’s sub-atomic particles and the such-like’.

KONRAD: But my approach does not have such claims. Real solutions usually have not. But they have the benefit of really working, and not leading to the exact opposite as what they promise, as yours clearly does. Consider, that if simple solutions are the best, then there is even a much more simple solution than your partial suicide approach. Why not total suicide? Why not become another Jim Jones? For, obviously, if there are no human beings any more, then there is also no longer a ‘human condition’. And then emotions are definitely no longer existent, for there is nobody left any more who can feel them.

RICHARD: Thus spake Konrad ... scare-mongering and being silly right to the very end ... again.





The Third Alternative

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